The Djembe Drummer

He smiled at me and asked for a business card. This particular Sunday afternoon found me performing at a holistic conference in Fort Lauderdale. He contacted me a few days later only to find me in the middle of a dress fiasco. The dress looked horrible and the sales lady had to comfort me because my face had crumbled to the ground. A large gasp was covered by my hand. She felt my pain and rushed to my side, “Oh sweetie its not supposed to hurt that much…” . The phone rang in the middle of the comfort session, and I heard a male voice on the other end. It was bad timing on my part but perhaps a distraction was needed given the fashion disaster and all. (A late night picture text to a friend brought about the words: BURN IT).
We started talking about this and that. It did not take him long to chime that he wanted to talk to me about performing at his best friend’s wedding for free. Allow the word to settle. Do you feel the length of that pause? That was my reaction as well. He went on to say, completely oblivious to the pause, that he did not know what my financial situation was like but that he did not have a lot of money. (Regardless of my financial situation, it certainly was not about to improve by talking to him!). He did not know anything about the particulars of the friend’s wedding, his best friend’s wedding, but was sure that I could work something out with him because he was a producer….as if I was looking. The next line that he threw at me is now an infamous classic: “These are very spiritual people and if you are able to do this, you will see how things will manifest in your life”……hold that thought.
A few weeks prior to this joke of an individual contacting me, I my proclaimed admiration for one of my mother’s social groups at her church. It gave me such an invigorating feeling to know that these retired ladies would get together once a month in their place of worship just to enjoy the company of each other. I wanted to perform for these wonderful women that were showing me that there is life after retirement. They welcomed me with open arms and were so very appreciative of my efforts. Do you know that I now have a regular client because of this performance? She saw me there and asked for my card. This is called beauty.
Let us now return to the djembe individual. It should be noted that he is actually a Bob Marley looking musician that happens to play Latin drums. Any product or service that is remotely close to the word spiritual comes with a hefty price tag. Have you tried purchasing a crystal? Perhaps you have visited a metaphysical store. Did your mouth drop wide open? Yes, I know. Try getting a cleansing or a reading. You won’t be able to do so without some serious cash. When he said that infamous line to me, these are the things that went through my mind. You are probably wondering why the conversation went as far as it did. Remember, he caught me in the middle of a dress fiasco. In order to avoid future pointless conversations, I texted him prior to my paid performance that I was unable to grace his friend’s (wait…his best friend’s wedding he knew nothing about), event.


It was the height of my grad school semester. Notes, schedules, and exams were all about. When the poet called to inform me that he had, “an awesome gig” for me, I listened. He said that it was a performance with him in Miami. I had no problem with that. When he told me that the pay was, $75.00, and he knew what I charged, the red flag was thrown on the field. Its one thing for me to miss a graduate level class for an actual performance that pays money; however, its entirely another thing for me to miss class for a complete waste of my time. He was soon listening to me decline such a generous offer. He put a great amount of effort into convincing me that this was something that I should do. His persistence made me realize that he had promised these people a harpist prior to talking to me and now, he was in a nice salty pickle. I added the hot dog; with mustard.
Quite some time passed before I heard from him again. It was a surprise to me that he even thought to contact me for round two. He had a talent showcase happening at a local Truth Center and inquired about my prices. He gave the illusion of starting out on the right foot. However, given his past actions, I knew better and told him that the price list would be mailed to him. A second phone conversation informed me that the Truth Center would be able to afford me but would love to have me perform because of my outstanding talent. There would be others performing as well, and my services were simply out of their budget. My voice wanted to say that the pastor would not be giving away his services, why should I be placed in this position? What I heard my voice say, which was a shock to me, “This does not sound like an event where I should perform.”
What people fail to realize is that when I perform, it is not just time out of my day in a formal gown behind an expensive instrument. More often than not, I have nightmares about something happening to me prior to performing. I worry about setting up my schedule properly so that I can have an effective performance and please the client. Bad weather can throw off my driving time or re-route me entirely. The emotional tax is a part of each performance. My body also remembers the performance in that my arms often get tight and require a massage.
No, there is no way that I can perform for free. My car requires gas. It has an insurance bill, and the bank still expects payment for the check that it gave to Honda on my behalf. My music lessons were not gratis. My dresses are not gifts. The instrument costs more than my car which does not include the strings or music. I can not be paid for the emotional involvement.
Poor poet. He is not the first and unfortunately for me, he is not the last. He called the next day while I was shopping with a friend in Aventura Mall. Because time with my sisters is not allowed to be interrupted by anyone, his call was promptly sent to voice mail. He was now inviting me to attend that very same showcase. It is my assumption that if I attended, I would fall in love with the event and offer to perform out of the kindness of my heart. Needless to say, the poet never heard from me again and vice versa.



by Crystal Sawyer (Notes) on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 7:59pm

October 3, 2011

I went to Walgreens one day to have some pictures enlarged. The Walgreens guy assisted me. We got to talking, and I told him that I was a musician. This seemed to be of great interest to him. He mentioned that a PR Firm, which also employed him…as what I have no idea…was having a grand opening in Pembroke Pines. He said that within his community there was only the same man that always did all of the special events. I could come and perform for 1.5hrs and then he, the gracious Walgreens Guy, would introduce me and then I could be the one to perform at all of the special events. I smiled and said, “Ok, may I have an email address where I can send a pricelist?” He firmly responded if I understood what he was getting ready to do for me. I firmly responded yes, and if he understood how many times someone has duped me in such a grand offer before. Obviously, I had no intentions of working without proper compensation. He realized this after he called to confirm my performance, and I made it extremely clear that I was not going out of my way to perform for free. Mr. Walgreens Guy had two jobs and thought that I would work for free….what was Mr. Walgreens Guy smoking? I do not really go to Walgreens anymore…but when I do, I see Mr. Walgreens guy and shake my head.


The idea that someone was trying to manipulate me into spending money so that he could get a comission after I said that I wasn’t interested truly bothered me to the core. I was already disturbed by the fact that he had put my coworker in the middle of this and questioned her about me. As of this morning, I decided that something else had to be done about this situation.

How did this individual get access to my phone number? Who gave it to him? Such information is suppossed to be private. The business tactics that have been used have been improper: ambush, badgering, harassment, and now manipulation. This situation stayed on my mind all weekend. When I realized that perhaps I was suffering in silence, an email was sent to my superior officer. I told her exactly what was happening to me and how I did not appreciate my confidential information being comprimised in this manner. Someone gave him my cell number without my permission. The mere act of me pressing send gave me such satisfaction because I had the balls to do more than handle this by myself. There have been clear violations here, and the end of the story should be in my hands. Not theirs.

Why another post? Simple. There are lessons to be shared here. I made mistakes that women are guilty of all of the time. Here is a list:

1.) Be direct as possible at all times. Being subtle is not appropriate for all situations.
2.) As soon as you distrust someone, take the necessary actions to protect yourself.
3.) There is a difference between being nice and being protective of yourself: spare no expense or face.

4.) Speak to others that can properly assist your situation. I can sit here and vent all I want but until I told my boss, what actions were truly taken to have proper intervention?

Salesmen are skilled in the art of manipulation and will stop at nothing to make a comission especially if business is poor. Why else would these two nuisances be wandering around my workplace ambushing people while they are distracted with their…JOBS. This man wants to push me into a corner so that I can cut him a check just so that he will leave me alone. Its not going to happen. If I have anything to say about it, and I do…..this will not happen to anyone else. Be strong my sisters. Never apologize for taking care of yourself and never feel the need to suffer by yourself in silence. There are people out there that have a genuine interest in you and will support you in ways that you never thought possible.


It was the week before work was suppossed to resume. I was still dealing with the aftermath of my accident and now the reality of being stressed out again was quickly dawning on me. My cell phone rang. It was a man that knew my name. He requested a meeting with me at my workplace to discuss the deductions of my check and matters along the lines of 401ks. I didn’t make anything concrete as far as plans and decided to deal with it later. Later came.

I had just finished a four hour meeting and was quite aggravated by an insurance company that was bullying me in addition to a referral company that felt the need to contact me about them possibly making money off my misfortune. My assigned space wasn’t even available to talk to anyone and I had to move to my coworker’s room. I tried to avoid the meeting and finally succumbed. My cell bill was lowered. I didn’t fork over any information as far as bank accounts but did agree to listen to the full presentation at a later date. In the meantime, I had to meet a friend on the other side of town whom was awaiting me. The coming weeks began to change everything.

The first week back at work was surreal. Here I was again. I had taken my lavender plant to work and a plate of crystals to help ease my tense atmosphere. I was willing to try anything to stay positive about my somber predicament. Phone calls to my cell went unanswered as I would sink into oblivion from sheer exhaustion after work. The schedule finally got into full swing, and I realized that the full presentation at a later date was not in the cards for me. Especially since I was considering changes in my life. When my coworker called, the first red flag was thrown down.

She said that the 40lk guy wanted to talk to me about something important. I knew that he was standing next to her trying to get her to convince me to talk to him. The truth of the matter was that I was about to start yet another block on my schedule and there was no way that I was about to broach anything important with anyone. The next day, I explained the situation to her. She informed me that he wanted to know if I sounded sincere with my current happenings. The second flag was thrown down.

My mind started to wonder how these individuals got a hold of my number to begin with. My personal information is suppossed to be confidential. Furthermore, if your product is so great, why do you feel the need to ambush people at work when they have just finished dealing with everything and need a minute to breathe? I certainly do not need to discuss financial matters in such a wide open forum. Who is this man to question my co-worker on my life?

I realize that I do need to take responsibility for having a change of heart and not expressing that. However, I have taken the time to analyze the entire situation and wish to present it as a lesson for myself.

It is easy for me to know when there are going to be periods of time (for the most part) that are not great for me as far as functioning: menstral cycle, Mercury in Retrograde, certain times of the year at work. These are not times in my life when extra things should be on my plate or even presented to me. However, this has taught me that there needs to be a buffer around the times for those pesky things that will fall through the crevices and simply clog the plumbing system of my life. Under the circumstances which I was facing a month ago, there was no way that a financial decision should have been entertained. Furthermore, given the tactics that have been employed during this small ordeal, it is not in my best interest to be involved with this company. It would be wise of me to question anyone that wants to make it easy for me to part with my hard earned money. What is in it for them? Why are these men constantly showing up at the workplace trying to convince people to do this? I shrink away, off to my next appointment….

I took responsibility for the fact that I never voiced my change of heart. I contacted the proper associate and informed him of my decision not to move forward. Approximately ten minutes later, his supervisor calls to nicely manipulate me into another meeting. I said that such a gathering was impossible because I was dealing with issues. That wasn’t good enough. I politely interrupted and said that my hellatious day had led to neck pain that had now consumed my head once again and I couldn’t reach my doctor to resolve the issue; this conversation was something that I could not deal with right now. That still wasn’t good enough. What am I going to do next you ask me? Its simple.

The fact that someone else has to make a comission off the fact that I may write a check is not in the cards for me nor does it serve my purpose. The sooner that I release this situation and approach it differently, it may not bring as much annoyance to me. After all, I did get myself into this and it is left to me to get myself out of this. I shall contact my phone company shortly to block these numbers from contacting me in the future. The next step is to inform my boss that I am being harassed at work by people that somehow have access to the property. If approached physically, which I have been forewarned of, a firm no shall be executed.
These men have been trained in the art of manipulation as if they are doing me a favor because they truly want to help me. This is something that I shall remember when dealing with this in the future.