Casting off a burden

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty, or so they say.

But even a crystal ball wouldn’t have kept me from shooting myself in the foot last week.

You see, I’ve had a certain client for five or six years. I not only designed his Website but also have maintained it with additions, updates, etc.

I thought we had a good working relationship.

But back in the Spring, a new fellow came on board. And started talking about “making some changes.”

Since the client is located far away from me, I figured he’d want to hire somebody local. Somebody who could be at his beck and call whenever he needed them.

I redoubled my efforts to keep him happy, doing updates the minute I got them, writing off time to keep my fees low.

Mistake No. 1. People never appreciate largesse.

And too often, the giver ends up feeling resentment.

Anyway, while I was out of town over the weekend helping Domer, this client emailed me something, noting it had to be published to the Website by a certain time on Saturday. But I’d left my laptop at home and didn’t get his message until Tuesday.

I shot him an apology email, to which he curtly responded that it was “okay this time,” but I shouldn’t let it happen again.

Huh?

The Fighting Irish and the Short-fused Italian in me exploded!

No way do I envision being chained to my computer 24/7/365. Yet that’s what it would mean, if I had to be on call for this one client.

Not to mention, how can I justify shoving my other clients aside, in favor of one who claims his work should take precedence?

So I fired him.

Mistake No. 2? You decide.

I wrote a scathing email, rewrote it (toning it down) two times, then, with a quick prayer, hit the Send button.

And worried.

Had I been too hasty? He was a paying client, after all, even if he was a slow payer.

Should I have tried to hammer out our differences over the phone? Right, and risk screaming like a Banshee at him!

What if I’d just reminded him I’m not his full time flunky? That I, too, have a life outside work? I doubt he’d have cared.

But I at least should have acknowledged my part in this and not let the resentment build to the boiling point.

Oh, well, what’s done is done. Part of me regrets my decision; the other part is jubilant over the freed-up time and emotion I’m left with.

I read something in this morning’s paper that resonated with me. “Sometimes you have to take a few things off your plate to make room for new opportunities that may arise.”

Lucille Ball said it another way. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

So, without this albatross hanging from my neck, maybe I can finally find time to finish my novel!

What do you think?

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24 thoughts on “Casting off a burden

    • I will disagree about “largesse.” I had to look it up :-D Many of my clients appreciate the extras but I only add them when I want too. I almost nerver charge for happy (babies) and sad (death) times, I often just do nails because I want too and about once a month I comp a camp bill just because . . .it feel great.

      • There’s the difference, I think. Adding them when you want to, when it’s convenient, as a nice thing, rather than feeling compelled to add them, then holding one’s tongue and letting the resentment build up. You must be such a good camp doggie mom — doing nails because you want to and comping bills? I hope they know what a jewel you are!!

        • Debbie, you’re wonderful to your clients and obviously very generous. The guy was obviously an assholio–he reminds me of one of my clients whose lateness screwed me up twice in one weekend to the point of missing dinner plans that I was looking forward too…When he finally did arrive, he told me I took care of dogs—he was a surgeon. I kept the dog for that trip—but never again. Some people are not worth the effort. I do find comping because it makes you feels good is much different than doing it when someone feels it is owed them. I love to comp bills for people who can well afford to pay them…nobody ever seems to give those people a break. :-D.

  1. “No way do I envision being chained to my computer 24/7/365. ”

    Debbie, that’s exactly what I was going to ask in my comment had you not said it. What, does he expect you to be ON CALL?

    Honestly, I think (know) you did the right thing, absolutely. You nipped it in the bud immediately and ended it. I would have too. And it’s funny because I’m the same as you being Italian. Boy, when get mad…I can explode sometimes. Which is why I prefer ‘pausing’ and writing it out in an email, rather than speak out at the time.

    “Mistake No. 1. People never appreciate largesse.”

    I have found that to be true as well. I used to be very generous by giving some of my clients Reiki or Reflexology treatments for FREE. And do you know what? They would be late for the appointments or just not show up.

    Unfortunately, many people NEED to have money cross hands to take it seriously.

    “Lucille Ball said it another way. “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.”

    Loved that quote from one of my favorite actresses!

    Have a great rest of your day, dear lady
    X

    • Thanks for the validation, dear friend. Domer pretty much said the same thing you did — that I was wise to drop this client and not keep stressing over him.

      It’s such a shame that you were offering treatments for free, yet people wouldn’t think your time and schedule were valuable — or respect you enough as a professional to show up on time! Here you’d think they’d be grateful to have found someone competent who was offering treatments without charging an arm and a leg!

      Yep, that Italian part of me can be a real challenge! Usually, I just try to walk away from confrontations, but boy, this time, I was ready to wrestle. Sigh. Now I suppose I have to go to Confession and tell the priest about my quick temper. Again!

    • That’s just it, Monica. I’m not sure whether it feels right. I really have mixed feelings over the whole situation. I suppose it boils down to, What’s done is done. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Keeping this client for the income would’ve been like holding onto a security blanket. It is always scary to turn away income, but I’ve found that somehow, things always work out.

    The fact he requested- no, expected- something to be completed after hours (Friday night/Saturday) is presumptuous. And the expectation that it should not happen again is unreasonable. Good for you for firing him. I suspect that he would’ve found a reason to cut your services eventually anyway. At least it frees up time for writing :)

    • Janna, I really needed to hear your wise words — Thank you, my friend! I was wavering whether I was acting like a prima donna, but you’ve shown me I was only expecting to be treated fairly. Too often, I’m afraid, those of us who are independent workers put up with bad treatment in exchange for a buck. No client should be permitted to take advantage of a contract worker (and if we permit it, shame on us!)

    • You know, Pat, it’s been sooo long since I’ve touched it that it’s almost like starting over! But maybe that’s not such a bad thing — don’t we have to write 10,000 words before the “good stuff” comes out?! Anyway, thanks for the support and encouragement!

    • Words of wisdom from someone who’s been there — thank you! I know in my heart that you’re right. Oh, but why do I feel like somebody’s pulled the rug out from under me??

  3. As you know Deb…my husband is a business coach…so I went him for answers:

    1). She should have had a contract with the client which lays out turn around times for all deliverables.

    The greatest mistake she made was providing services without attaching them to payment. The hardest thing to deal with in these circumstances is managing expectations. That’s why contracts are so important.!

    • Your husband is 100% right, Tanya. This was one of my early, early clients, and since I was so happy to have the job — and trusted the person who “hired” me, I didn’t even have a contract. Dumb, I know!

      Since then, ALL clients sign a contract, and I never have to worry about the terms of our agreement. I know I’m going to provide them a good service; they know they’re going to pay for it. Much better to spell it all out in writing — thank your husband for pointing this out, and tell him to keep encouraging business folks to draw up contracts!

  4. He can’t expect you to be on call for him…you have a right to a life as well! Your client needs to know the boundaries…like you only work certain hours or days and are entitled to vacation days as well.
    You were smart to rewrite (tone down) your letter after you’d calmed down though. It’s usually a mistake to send what we write when we are angry.

    • Thank you for understanding and sympathizing, Suzi. We independent types too often sacrifice our free time — evenings, weekends, holidays — so we can work for our clients. They shouldn’t expect that, nor should we get them used to it!

      And, ooh, you’re so right about that letter! It was pretty harsh, to say the least, ha!

  5. I think you did the right thing. The client’s response to your apology was condescending and like you said, you’d seen warning signs from him already. It was time to cut ties.

    • Terri, bless you for helping to make me feel better over this! When you work for yourself, you try exceptionally hard NOT to tick off any client, and to go the extra mile in pleasing them. Still, I suppose there comes a time when that’s no longer possible and you have to part ways. It’s never easy, but looking on the bright side helps!

  6. I’m doing three things:

    1. giving you a big high five
    2. remembering as I read this the old adage that sometimes 20% of our clients cause 80% of our frustration – drop those 20%, and
    3. Looking forward now to your upcoming novel.

    • Aw, gee, thanks for the encouragement, Barb. But I’m afraid it’s still going to be a while before I finish the doggone thing! I’m mired in the murky middle and can’t seem to extricate myself, ha!

  7. Debbie, my friend, I think it’s normal for one to feel some remorse after making a decision like this. As a society, we’ve been conditioned that it’s better to be keep the peace and avoid confrontation at all costs. However, I think your actions speak of a decisive woman who not only values herself, but is also assertive enough to make her needs known. Any good client should be able to appreciate that and if yours doesn’t, then it’s his loss. Kudos to you for deciding what’s best for you! :)

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