In my first post on this blog Oh, to be a freelancer! (the previous ones came from my weekly thread on MUA) I wrote about my relationship with the agency that supplied me with work for 18 years and what used to happen with the one piece of work I was still doing for them. This year it’s been different. No early phone call. No threat. No warning that it might be more difficult than usual or that the deadline might be shorter and do I really want to do it, anyway? Nothing.
So I emailed the woman the other day. Today there are two messages on my answerphone and an email saying she’d like to tell me about ‘what’s happening’ over the phone. I’ve emailed back to say I’d rather read about it. (She’s always wrong-footed me that way: forcing me to react to bad news there and then, and I don’t react well to bad news).
I know what’s coming. I know there will be no British Tourist Authority brochure this year, or any other year. That’s one third of my very small income gone. The surprise will be the reason why. Did she decide it wasn’t worth her while giving me work this year – after 18 years of bons et loyaux services? Did the British Tourist Authority refuse to pay for the proofreading again and did she tell them – on my behalf – to go jump in the lake? Whatever the reason, since the work should have started in three weeks’ time, I would have expected to be told long before now. I think after 18 years of etc. etc. I deserved that courtesy. I never missed a deadline in all those years. Because I never went on holiday in the summer, like all the other French translators, I was always there to answer questions – at any time of the day. (It very often seemed to me I wasn’t a freelancer, but a tele-worker.) Before the advent of email, I used to deliver the work personally (the agency is at the other end of London) whenever a deadline was especially short. Oh, I don’t know what else I used to do to make her work easier. Now this.
But I'm a freelancer so who cares.
Updates (14 June): I now know ‘what’s happening’ with the brochure: it’s not good but it’s not as bad as I feared. The BTA has decided to just update last year’s copy, which involves spending an awful lot of time fiddling about with PDFs and stuff. At least I won’t be totally idle in July, but how do you cost adding 23 words here, seven there? The woman knew about it a little while ago, but she was about to go on holiday so she decided to tell me on her return.
I decided to leave this Slap up because, although I may have been a bit unfair to my employer, I know she wouldn’t think twice about doing what I thought she had already done and if not this time then maybe next year.
‘Paying it forward’, isn’t that what it’s called? LOL!
(26 July): Just heard from the agency that the brochure has been cancelled. The English copy to translate should have landed on my desk over two weeks ago. As it happens, because I don't work full-time any longer, I didn't turn down any other translating jobs in order to stay available during that time and for the next four weeks, but someone else might have. All they said was “Sorry!” ‘Sorry’ doesn’t do it when you’ve lost a third of your income with no hope of making up the loss.