steffanie rivers

Steffanie Rivers

*Once when I was in high school a friend and I cut class together. We were smart enough to create a fake doctor’s note for the teacher, but we walked around the neighborhood where everybody knew us, knew we should have been in school and – unfortunately for me – knew my mother’s phone number. That was dumb. I’m not sure how many calls she received that day, but it only took one.

I was her only child. So my mother – a single parent – kept close tabs on me. Even though we’re only twenty years apart in age and I’ve stood taller than her since I was 11, she never pretended to be my friend. And to this day I can count on her to be the voice of reason in my life. She tells me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.

When I got fired from Wendy’s in high school because I forgot to attend an employee meeting, she called the manager and got my job back. And when my car was repossessed when I was in graduate school she called the repo man. Then she called me to say my car was waiting for me to pick it up. If your mother is like my mother her words carry a lot of weight.

Fast forward to last July: I had a written agreement with a business associate to do some work for me. And I paid him in full upfront. The work was to be completed in stages, but the final project was due no later than Oct. 31st, just last week. I was dissatisfied with the first draft and I told him so. He didn’t like my feedback, but business is business. Maybe if I got more involved instead of just letting it unfold I would be happier with the final project, I concluded. But the business associate didn’t see it that way. He didn’t like my “hands on involvement” and he told me so.

You never know what a person is capable of, especially when they know they’ve got the upper hand. A simple business agreement had turned into a personality conflict. Now my irreplaceable information I gave him to complete the project was in jeopardy. For nearly three weeks there was no word from him. The last thing he told me in early October was the project would be completed on his schedule – not mine even though I was the paying customer. Did that mean I would receive the final project next week, next month or not at all? Only he knew his intentions, but he wasn’t telling me.

My Halloween deadline came and went with no word from him. That’s when it hit me. I wrote a letter to the one person I hoped had his ear and was his voice of reason. Yes, I contacted his mother; I played the mother card. He didn’t like it. But I can live with that. Within 24 hours I received my finished project. If momma can’t reason with you nobody can.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas metro area. View the video version of her columns at For comments, questions or to book speaking engagements email her at [email protected].