Monday, September 25, 2006
The Relationship Terminator
I saw this news item earlier today and thought it was quite funny. I’m too lazy to dress it up, so what you see below is more or less the entire news article, lest I be accused of plagiarism!
From seemingly solid marriages through to quick flings and illicit affairs, a phone call or a knock from Bernd Dressler is guaranteed to kill the romance stone dead. Hence, the growing number of clients for his new "separation agency" that informs unsuspecting spouses and lovers that their partners no longer want them. For those too scared to break the bad news themselves, the 52 year old former insurance man will deliver the bullet with Teutonic efficiency, charging €20 to do it by phone and from €50 upwards for a "personalised" home visit.
"I am just the messenger," said Mr. Dressler, whose Berlin based business has earned him the nickname of the Terminator. "People go to dating agencies to find a lover. By helping unhappy couples to split up, I am offering the same kind of service, but in reverse," he says.
Beginning with a "let's stay friends" arrangement involving a "sensitive phone call", Mr. Dressler offers four different termination packages. At the deluxe end of the scale he will administer a "Personal Termination Call" which includes a detailed explanation as to why his client has decided to end the relationship. The follow-up service also includes discreetly collecting a client's belongings from a former lover's home.
The opening message can be delivered in a "sympathetic or direct manner", according to the wishes of the client. But in doorstep encounters, Mr. Dressler, 6ft and with the bearing of a police superintendent crossed with an undertaker, always opens with the same gambit. "I say to them, good day, my name is Bernd Dressler from the Separation Agency and I have been asked by your partner to inform you that he or she wishes to end your relationship. I don't get involved if somebody starts crying or gets emotional. I simply tell them I have come to pass on the message."
He never attempts to intervene in unhappy marriages and makes a point of ruling out clients with the potential for violence or extreme emotional behaviour. Cash must be delivered up front before any approach is made. Since he started his agency last July, he has received more than 200 inquiries from Germans stuck in dead end relationships and has enabled 120 of them to finally terminate their liaisons. Most customers are women in their early 20s. "I get about three phone calls a day," he said. "The peak periods are after holidays and weekends, when couples have suffered the most stress," he explained.
Mr. Dressler launched his agency after losing his job as an insurance company manager and spending three years touring around America on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. However, while the business may be raking in the euros for Mr. Dressler, those on the receiving end of "The Terminator's" services are still coming to terms with it. He told Hagen, a 37 year old council official, that his relationship with his girlfriend, Heike, was over. "It hurt like hell at the time, but Mr. Dressler was very objective. I suppose it was the only way that Heike could tell me that things were over," Hagen said.