Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Please, no, not another blog!

This started, last year, as Slap of the Week, on the American message board I belong to. Other members join me and nominate anyone/anything that has aggravated them in the previous week. However, I'm told it promotes negativity – G-d forbid one shouldn’t be happy and grateful all the time – so I’ve decided to move it outside the board and make it more or less a daily gripe.

Please feel free to vent about what incenses you – I’ll sympathize.

If you're interested you can read some of my previous slaps and see what got my goat in the past few months.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Oh, to be a freelancer!

I am fuming! So what else is new?

No, no, this time I am really angry.

I got a telephone message yesterday (didn't hear it until earlier today – no one phones me these days so I very often forget to check) from the translation agency I've been working for since 1987. Until three years ago I worked full-time for them, translating classical music CD notes and tourist brochures (for the British Tourist Authority); because of health problems and because of the stress caused by having deadlines every two or three days, I gave it all up, except one brochure – the Scotland guide, which usually keeps me chained to my PC all summer, well, the whole of July, i.e. all summer, and then here and there until the end of October, since I have to proofread the stuff and it comes in dribs and drabs. This year, I was due to receive copy around July 15th. Anyway, this phone call: it said that the BTA was going to be three or four weeks late. Three or four weeks late! Oh, ok, it might clash with the work I usually do for the BBC later in the summer, but, never mind, it probably would be ok. Not to worry. It means that I can enjoy the good weather this year, maybe, with a bit of luck.

I phone the woman earlier today and she tells me that the BTA's deadline cannot be moved, because of... whatever. So, hang on, let me get this right, they will be three or four weeks late on a job that normally takes four weeks to do and the deadline has to remain the same. When do I get to do the work? Erm, well, don't know, really. And, on top of that, the English copy will be supplied in batches, not all in one go, so I will be kept dangling for... how long? No one knows.

I'm in the kitchen and I start flinging some pots and pans around, I'm so angry and frustrated. The woman goes, "If you think you can't do it..." "I can't afford not to do it. I have to say 'yes'." "Oh, J! I can't hold you hostage." "I have to say 'yes'. If I don't do it, you'll give it to some little French girl, just off the Eurostar, and I'll never get it back and it might turn out to be ok and I could have done it. I have to say 'yes'." I start hyperventilating.

We go on like that for a while. She tells me it's a problem for her too, and for the editor, who's just had an operation, etc. Yeah, right! My heart bleeds for you both. I'm the one who does the work. Hello?!

Every year it's something else. Last year, she called me in May to let me know that we might not be getting the Scotland brochure to do because the BTA might refuse to pay for proofreading. Since 1987, I've done the proofreading for no more money, and suddenly, in 2004, she decides that it's not acceptable and all work should be paid for. Fantastic! Except that the BTA might say, "Don't even think of it! We'll go and get someone else, thanks." What about me? I'd rather do the brochure with unpaid proofreading than no brochure at all. In despair, I phoned the Translators' Association: they told me I would be within my rights to get in touch with the BTA and offer my services direct, since I had no written contract with the agency. In the end, I didn't have to: the BTA agreed to everything. Do I need this stress – every year? Well, find me something else to do in the summer and I'll chuck it all out in a heartbeat.

Slaps to the BTA and to the agency for giving me such grief!

Sunday, 26 June 2005

That's not allowed

This week, I would like to nominate the managing agents of the block of flats my partner and I live in. It's a huge 1930s building, that looks wonderful from the front, with a typical Art Deco fa├žade and lobby, but like a council block inside. Some flats have balconies, which, according to our quirky leases, don't belong to the owners of the flats they're attached to. Don't ask.

Anyway, some of the lucky people who have balconies also have lovely flowers and plants on those balconies. As I said above, since the residents don't own those balconies they are not allowed to keep *anything* on them; however, common sense has usually prevailed and cheerful flowers have always brightened the building to some extent. Until now. We’ve had new managing agents for a few months. They seem much more efficient than the former ones, but yesterday we all received a circular reminding us of our obligations (re. noise, rubbish disposal, etc.) and that those flowers and plants are not supposed to be there and will have to be removed. WTF, I say. Old bikes, broken chairs, clapped out mattresses, I understand, but FLOWERS?!!!

Sunday, 12 June 2005

Bela in the land of nonsense

We, in England, now live in a country dreamed up by Lewis Carroll. There is no rhyme nor reason for anything anyone does.

I was expecting an important letter this morning. It was sent to me yesterday, by Special Delivery, which means that the Post Office *had* to deliver the item by 1pm today.

As usual, I was working last night until the wee hours and only got up 45 minutes ago, at 1.15pm. I had been expecting to be woken up by the postman, but nothing. What did I find when I went to pick up my mail from my letter box? A Post Office notice saying:
"Sorry, you were out. We tried to deliver the item at 10.25am."

After letting out a very long scream, I read that:
1) the item can only be collected from the Delivery Office, which is miles away, Mon-Fri 7am-1pm, Sat 7am-12.30pm

2) the item can only be collected after 48 HOURS. Which means that these letters, etc. that are sent at extra cost because they are usually URGENT do not get delivered and cannot be collected for TWO WHOLE DAYS after the postman has not done his/her job!

I need that letter NOW. I cannot get to it.

Sunday, 5 June 2005

Toys for little boys

There is this ad on TV about how a particular electronics company is trying to make technology more user-friendly. It shows a series of little kids handling some devices. Until yesterday I hadn’t realized all the kids were boys. What sort of subliminal message are they trying to convey? That girls can’t be as technologically savvy than boys? That there’s no point for them to try? What? They’re confirming women/girls watching the ad in their idea they’re right not to want to learn about computers and digital cameras and scanners, or whatever, that’s it for boys, and that it is ok, when something goes wrong with their machines, to go, “My boyfriend/husband/father/brother, who knows a lot about xxxx (usually not that much anyway), says…” Sorry, it isn’t ok and it isn't charming. We complain about men not wanting to learn how to load the washing machine. It’s the same thing. Slapping X around their dumb corporate face for keeping girls out of their ad.