Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Phantom Project

Last April, I went up to Seattle for a meeting with a client. They are hiring me for a big important project of theirs. That meeting turned out to be more or less a waste of my time, but I guess these things happen.

The project was supposed to start up in August. I heard nothing from the client all summer, so at the beginning of August I e-mailed my contact person to see what was up. She didn't get back to me. I sent another e-mail a week or so later. Silence. I called her after a few more days went by. Oh, yes, she'd just been thinking about me that very morning on her drive into work. There'd been a few delays in the start up. OK. Fine. She thought that things would probably get going mid-September. I told her that was fine and that I'd adjust my schedule accordingly. These things happen. And it's for this very reason that I always have several projects going on at once. So I can juggle and keep my work flow fairly steady.

Mid-September rolls around. I've heard nothing more from the client. Same routine. I send an e-mail politely asking if there have been further delays. I get no response. I allow a week to go by before sending another email. This time I tactfully point out that I do have other clients making demands on my time, but that, of course, I don't want to accept other projects if their project is going be starting, since I've committed to work on it. However, if it isn't started up as scheduled then I do need to schedule work with other clients. I was more eloquent in my e-mail than I'm being here. She did respond to that and apologized and told me that they'd have something for me from them "no later than October 19." Well, you can see where this is going.

I preemptively e-mailed her on October 15, because I needed to know if I should book a job with another client and she told me that some big meeting that she and the committee of old men who are in charge had went as planned, but that she'd have to get back to me on exactly when I might expect the crap I'm supposed to be working on to show up.

Naturally, I heard nothing more from her. Does this project even exist?

Here's some questions I'd love to ask her.

Why isn't she horribly embarrassed every time I have to e-mail her repeatedly to ask her what's going on with this project?
Doesn't that make her feel incompetent?
Doesn't she realize how unprofessional that is?
Doesn't she see how discourteous and disrespectful of me she's being?

I've tried tactfully to mention several times that it's absolutely fine if there are delays. I can work with that. I just need to know about them (preferably as soon as she knows) so I can book other work. Is that too much to ask? It would take 30 seconds for her to respond to an e-mail to let me know there have been more delays.

Meanwhile, I keep having to be vague with other clients, telling them I'm not certain how much work I can take on, yada, yada. And the result is that currently, I'm underbooked because I anticipated that by now part of my time would be taken up with this phantom project. So, yes, her incompetence is actually costing me money. I'm "working ahead" on one project, so I'll get it out of the way, which will free up time down the road that I can hopefully use to recoup the underbooking if this project continues to not come into existence. (Does this even make sense to anyone?)

There's no way in hell I'd put up with this kind of crap if it wasn't for the fact that this is going to be a very lucrative project and something that "will look good on my resume."

I have no reason to think that they've decided to hire someone else for the project and they're just not telling me. I have a long relationship with this client (working with other more on-the-ball staff members, I should point out), and I know they love my work. I think it's just them not having their shit together. Which is fine. I'm used to it. It's the nature of the whole self-employed gig. All they have to do is be upfront about the fact that their shit isn't together and let me know when they expect it to be together.

I sent out another e-mail on Monday, asking for an update on project. (Again, I was as polite as polite can be, of course.) I've heard nada. I guess I'll wait til Monday to rattle her cage again, but, jeez, I just hate the position it puts me in. I don't like to nag and badger people about basic things they should be doing--things that are simple and fundamental to good client/vendor relationships--especially if that person is, essentially, my boss.

And one last thing. On the occasions I do finally talk to her, she alway tells me how busy she's been. She's one of those people. You know, the sort that makes a shitload of money for doing nothing. I saw her in action is Seattle, and she didn't do crap except run her mouth all ding-dong day long. She wouldn't even carry her own purse! She made one of her lackeys do it. I saw that with my own eyes.

Does my attitude suck or what?

Today's Random NaBloPoMo blog: There isn't one. The Randomiser isn't very random lately. The same five blogs keep coming up over and over. One was in French, one was a poetry blog, and I forget what the others were but I didn't find them compelling. Anyway, I've worked myself up into quite a state, and B's bugging me to watch a Canadian TV show with him right now, and I think I'd best do that.

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