Friday, August 20, 2004

Got What I Wanted

I may be slightly breaking my rule, but since I make 'em I can break 'em.

As a freelancer, I need to keep my workflow steady, which means I need to book up my time in advance. For two weeks now, I have been trying to find out if this big project, which I rather loathe, is going to be over on Sept. 3. Unfortunately, the only person who can answer that is The Most Uncommunicative Woman in the World (TMUWITW).

This AM I called my contact on the project to see if he had any info. He was rather curt with me and, as I should have expected, told me the best thing to do would be to contact TMUWITW myself. He seemed in a very big hurry to get off the phone with me, which helped stoke the growing suspicion I have been having of late that he thinks my work is crap. Not a good mindset to be in. I know for a fact it has been impacting my attitude and productivity on this project.

So one again it was time for me to start kicking ass and taking names--something I have had to do every time I needed an answer out of TMUWITW. I sent a carefully crafted e-mail asking if there would be any further assignments after this one is over.

I have gotten probably six or so queries about my availability in September and, guess what? Despite not knowing the status of this project I've gone ahead and accepted the choicest ones. I accepted one more this AM in fact, which was what spurred me to finally try to find out.

Anyhoo. Shockingly, TMUWITW called me only a few hours after I sent the e-mail. (I think my contact may have put a bug in her ear as well.)

Here's what she told me:

A) They are "really happy with my work." I had no idea and had convinced myself of the opposite. But let me tell you that that makes a huge difference in my whole perspective on the project. I need approval; I can't help it.

B) She would like to offer me a poetry unit, but isn't sure how I feel about poetry, which thus gave me a way to gracefully say "no" to that and be done with this goddamn project as soon as I finish the current unit.

C) So I thanked her nicely and did two things that I am normally too timid to do: I turned down the unit and I "educated" her a bit about how I need to keep a steady workflow. Because I hadn't gotten a prompt answer from her when I asked two weeks ago, I actually was forced to take on a few small projects. (I phrased it a lot more tactfully than that though.)

D) She claimed she understood and urged me to keep in touch with them because this project is going to go on "forever until we all die" so there will probably be work for me later if I want it. One thing I will say for TMUWITW is that she has a good sense of humor.

End result: No bridges were burned and I got what I wanted--closure for with this project! Plus, B. and I can now for sure take a few days off in early September to go down to Bend for a vacation. Yay!

Lesson learned: Be more assertive.

Sidenote: While researching something else today, I ran across a blog for an IT guy in Knoxville, TN who has been out of work since the beginning of the year and who has a family to support. Apparently, they are literally down to their last roll of TP and the phone is about to be cut off and there isn't enough money to buy another tank of gas. Very sobering. This is clearly a very well-educated, qualified person who is desperately trying to get a job and it just isn't working for him, probably because all those IT jobs are being outsourced to India.

I, indeed, need to remember how *incredibly fortunate* I am.


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