October 5th, 2014:

THE DUBAI DEBACLE—WAS SHE CATFISHED?

Anne was looking forward to meeting her Romeo in person when he returned from his Dubai construction job; in the meantime she enjoyed all his long and loving Emails. Bill was initially impressed with exotic Dubai, but the project was turning out to be more difficult than he had planned for. He took a few of his own men and hired local labor, which turned out to be a mistake. The locals were not skilled, but he was stuck with them. He was making it work, he wrote, and promised her a nice souvenir.

Bill-Dubai

 

Injured

 

 

 

 

 

 

About a week after he’d started his project, Anne received several photos of a man on a gurney being given oxygen as paramedics were wheeling him from an emergency vehicle to a hospital. Bill sent her a long letter explaining that a horrible accident had happened during the construction, and he had been in a coma for several days. Bill had his laptop with him, and he managed to send her all the tragic information. There had been serious injuries, he said, and one death. According to his written explanation, Bill’s men had completed the first floor of the showroom and the second floor had been hoisted above it and was being lowered to fit onto some pillars. The floor was lowered unevenly, apparently, so it crashed onto the first floor and struck several workers, including Bill. Men were seriously hurt on the first floor, and those above working on lowering the upper floor plummeted onto the first floor. It was the worst accident he’d ever had, Bill wrote, and he was very sad that one of the local workers had been killed and two of his own men critically injured.  He had suffered a terrible head injury, was in great pain, and had hurt his left leg, but he thanked God he was alive. Anne was amazed he had managed to give her such a detailed description, but imagined that he needed to share his anguish with a sympathetic woman.

Bill’s long Email indicated he felt dreadful and also responsible as a result of the accident, especially since the local workers had no medical insurance. Nevertheless, he told her not to worry, it would all work out. He sent photos of himself being taken by paramedics into the hospital; the paramedics had documented their work and made sure he got the proof as well.

According to Bill, the main issue in Dubai was having money, particularly in regard to foreigners. Hospital care was very costly. Bill explained his situation to Anne in detail: he had brought a good amount of cash but hadn’t counted on this accident or a missing piece of equipment that had to be rebought when he’d arrived. The American embassy couldn’t help financially, even if he did have money in the U.S.; they would only fly him home. Having a serious accident in a foreign country was very challenging, and the extreme pain from his head injury didn’t help matters. The doctors had told him he needed surgery for the head injury but the estimated $10,000 cost needed to be paid in advance. Bill had used up most of the funds he’d brought and couldn’t access his stateside bank account, which was locked. He had gotten in touch with his mother, and asked Anne if she could help in any way. He was scared and desperate and praying for help.

Anne answered right away and explained that she didn’t have the funds or credit that could help him, even in a small way. She wrote him several times afterward encouraging him in his struggles and hoping things worked out well. She didn’t receive an answer for over a week and assumed no news is good news.

When she finally got an Email, it was very brief and the message was in italics. “My surgery has been done and it was successful. I am feeling so much better now, but still going to be in the hospital till I fully recover…Thank you for everything.”

She guessed the message might have been written by his mother; it didn’t sound like Bill at all. Although Anne wrote friendly Emails to him several times in the next few weeks to ask about his health, he never replied. What had happened to all those loving words and enthusiasm—he had even called himself “Your Man” shortly before all the communication stopped.

It had been quite a saga but it had seemed very real to her. She had heard about men who scammed (now known as catfished) women (or the reverse) with lots of attention and love on Emails. She hadn’t imagined it would happen to her. Besides, she had a difficult time believing he’d gone to all that trouble just to deceive her.

This story, which took place over a year ago, is true. It was my adventure, and I will always wonder what was real.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

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