Thursday, October 6, 2011

Why I am joining Occupy Boston

Most anyone reading this probably knows me as a writer. I love writing – and I'm thrilled to be on the brink of a new contract. But what you may not know is that writing does not pay my bills. In order to hold up my end of the household, I do contract editing and writing for a variety of clients. One of the biggest is my reason for joining Occupy Boston today.

It started two weeks ago, but it should have started sooner. As per my agreement with this big corporation, I send in an invoice every week. However, I hadn't been paid in a while, so I was quite happy when a check showed up two weeks ago covering four invoices dating back to August. I deposited it and paid some bills. Then I heard that the check had been rejected – not paid. Lots of back and forth (the corporation at first telling me, "oh, just wait till it comes back to you and try again") and on Tuesday I finally was told that a new check was being Fed Ex'd to me. Except that it wasn't. It didn't go out until Wednesday, I was told. But it didn’t arrive today, either, and I was told that "the mail room guy forgot to drop off the Fed Ex packages."

Let me be clear. I do not blame the bookkeeper who passed all this along to me. She's the one who pushed for a new check to be written for me, and I'm sure that's what she was told by corporate headquarters in a different state. And then she was told – and told me – that a new package was going out to me today, Priority, for delivery tomorrow. She even sent me a tracking number. Only, guess what? It's 9:30 at night, and Fed Ex has the tracking number – but no package. Again, this isn't the fault of the bookkeeper and I do not believe it is the fault of any anonymous (and perhaps nonexistent) mail room staffer, either. They're wage slaves, just like I am. But the corporate mind just does not care about one poor client. Me.

Except when they need me. And they have – they have. I have made myself available days, nights, and weekends as big deadlines approach. I’ve been happy to do this, even as I squeeze out time for my beloved projects: my books. I very much like the people I work for directly; they're doing the best they can, and I feel they understand and value what I bring to the job. I am willing to trade my skills and experience for money. It's not how I want to earn my living, but that's been okay. I don't mind honest work. What I do mind is not being paid, particularly by a large corporation that clearly has the money for client conferences, and the like. What I mind is being considered small enough that I can be cheated and shoved to the back of the deck. What I mind is the lack of honesty - tell me if you're having cash flow problems. Tell me if you can't pay my rates. Maybe we can work something out; maybe I'll work for less when other projects are slow or while I’m waiting for the edits on a book. Maybe I can recommend someone who has less experience who would want the chance to prove herself.

I really hope the check arrives tomorrow. I have bills due, and (unlike some corporations I won't name) I don't want to deprive merchants who provided goods or services in return for my promise to give them currency in exchange. I have believed in this system. I have honored the social contract of capitalism. But whether or not it arrives, I need a break. I am fed up with this lack of respect - this lack of HONESTY. I have seen several friends, longtime homeowners, denied the opportunity to refinance their mortgages, despite their efforts to always pay their bills in a timely manner. I have seen a local small business close when a previously approved loan was revoked. I have several friends who are living with longtime unemployment. Like 99% of this country, I am willing to work, but I demand to be paid – and paid in a timely manner. I would love to live in a world where my art, or my craft if you will, were valued enough so that I could make a living by my books. That's a goal. But for now, I want respect.

I have not gotten it, so I am joining Occupy Boston.


Anonymous said...

Amen. Somewhere in the last 20 years, the people at the top decided to buy the government and treat the populist as expendable, gullible and clueless.

Perhaps Occupy Boston and the birth of this new movement can stem the tide. God I hope so.

Thank you, Clea for saying it so well.

LNMP298 said...

Clea, I can complete relate to your predicament! I run a small business from my home, and often serve as a subcontractor to larger companies. Sometimes it takes several phone calls to get them to pay me - a waste of my valuable time. While I enjoy working independently, it's become so hard to make a living...

The Daring Novelist said...

You go, Clea!

I'll be occupying my town this weekend, too.

That whole story about how if you put a frog in a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature, he'll never noticed that you boil him? Ain't so. At some point, the frog gets really really p*ssed off.