Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No one expects the Snarkish Inquisition

The first rule of running a successful business is finding (and then actually hiring) the right employees. Any HR manager worth his or her salt will tell you that, qualifications and experience aside, one of the most important traits to look for in a prospective employee is "team spirit"...

...and then, for some godforsaken reason, they'll go ahead and hire me.

Before I venture any further with this story I want to state for the record that I am one of the politest freelancers you will ever work with; after nine years on the market, I've got the fine art of business communication down to a T. I even know the proper honorifics to be used, as well as the socially appropriate moment to drop them (a subtle indication that the Project Manager in question can now start calling my cell number at all sorts of ungodly hours for the so-called 'follow-up translation', which is just a fancy acronym for 'pieces of text that silly chit from the tech department forgot to include in the original strings, so you're supposed to do it for free now to get the agency's arse out of a tight spot with the client').

In short, I'm the very paragon of civility in normal circumstances. However...

Translating is my JOB. Which, by definition, means that I am supposed to receive financial reward for the trouble. And when the said reward goes MIA...

Dags. Is. Not. Happy.

There are two highly professional, market-approved ways to begin the process of financial settlement with lazy clients: the first is to call the Project Manager directly and start screaming, the other is to grab a bag of popcorn and ring an international debt collector (or three). But there is also a third way - the path less trodden, but by no means less enjoyable - namely, a follow-up(yours!) email.

'Dear Mr/Ms So-and-so,

I do apologize for the somewhat repetitive nature of my emails as of late, but seeing as time is money (and I am running a bit low on the latter) I have no doubt you will graciously extend your understanding in this case.

(copy and paste all relevant emails here here)

To save us both half an hour's pay, I have taken the liberty of forwarding our correspondence to all the relevant parties.

(meaning, you send a copy to everyone in the company and their pet!)

Best regards,
Firstname Lastname'

I give it two hours before they send you the money, a page-long arse-kissing reply included. Gotta love digital messaging...
Click... you know you want to