Okay, it’s usually not my style to whine. Those of you who take the time to read (or scan) my posts know me well enough to know that.
I do alot of writing in my modest profession. It’s sporadic but pretty steady for the most part.
Every once in awhile in a writer’s career, there comes a time when there’s that one client of so many wonderfully nice people that, well, you just can’t make he/she happy. I’ve only had that happen once in my freelance career and it hit me right in my writing gut.
It’s that one “bad apple” that spoils it all, hurts you to the core and makes a writer doubt that she/he is worthy. Those of you who write for a living or submit your work to publishers or whomever know what I’m talking about. Rejection sucks.
Not sure what made me think of that “bad apple” today but hey, it gave me a blog topic so stay with me. This was about four years ago and this person just didn’t like my work. No matter what I did.
Alan from Southern South Dakota
I’m going to call this client Alan from Southern South Dakota (A.S.S.). I’d emailed my credentials/resume to his VP and the VP and I corresponded alot before I finally made contact with A.S.S.
After agreeing on a time to have a conference call (on a Wednesday night at 7 p.m.) with A.S.S. and then V.P. calling to inform me A.S.S. couldn’t do it for another two hours because he more important things to do, I had to wait. (This was my first clue and I got a really bad feeling).
A.S.S. wanted me to write this complicated, boring newsletter about government funding stuff on some medical institutions. He finally called 20 minutes after the time he was supposed to call (from his car phone on the way to his two-hour drive to an airport) and the conversation went something like this (I’m summing up briefly here).
Me: Hello Mr. A.S.S. Thank you for the opportunity and I’d like to ask you a few questions in order to glean an idea of how you’d like your newsletter written.
A.S.S.: Well, caaaaa (that’s his cell phone cutting in and out and car noise), I’d like it to caaaaa, encompass, caaaa the particulars of caaaa this and that. And you may want to research caaaaa and……)
Me: Pardon, did you say….?
This excruciating conversation went on for an hour and a half. I was frantically taking notes, recording and trying desperately to understand what he was trying to say. When I’d ask a simple, direct question like:
Me: Would you like the tone of the newsletter to be….?
He would answer this way:
A.S.S. I don’t know, surprise me, you’re the writer.
The next day I had to have conference call with MR. MEDICAL VP, that A.S.S. had arranged so that I could get his opinion on some other boring stuff. I had pages of notes and recordings to weed through plus research and statistical stuff. Argh-h!
I finally got the rough draft ready, emailed it to A.S.S. and called him at a time that was most convenient for him.
A.S.S. You’re mixing stats here. This isn’t good. I don’t like the tone of this at all.
Me: I see what you mean about the stats. I can fix that — this is only a first rough draft. What don’t you like about the “tone.” Can you be more specific?
A.S.S. You’re the writer. It just doesn’t read like I want it to. Why don’t you give it another try and email me tomorrow. (He said this while yelling at some other poor worker bee).
Me: Well, okay…did you like how I brought up what MR. MEDICAL VP said about blah, blah, blah?
A.S.S.: Yeah, I guess that’ll do. Still, I just don’t like the tone….
The following day was spent rewriting, editing and finally emailing A.S.S. the next rough draft. He sent me a scathing email about how I just didn’t get it and he’d find someone else. He then told me to bill him for my time.
I did. I copied the nice VP who I’d made contact with to take on this nightmare gig in the first place.
A.S.S. emailed me back quickly with a If you were more worried about writing than you were getting paid, you might have been able to produce the tone I wanted.
My head nearly exploded. A.S.S. did pay me for my time though (so he wasn’t all bad or maybe he was having a bad day or maybe four years ago my writing really did suck) and the nice VP sent me an email thanking me profusely for my time and my “utmost in professionalism.” He even threw in he was very impressed with the writing he’d seen. I’m pretty certain he’d had a few run-ins with A.S.S. himself.
Moral of the story: No amount of time/effort/hourly rate is worth working with an A.S.S. that you just can’t please.
What’s your bad apple story? — Share please.
Press play below. This song has been stuck in my head all day (since 6 a.m. this morning) and I’d like you to share in my misery and get it stuck in your head.
What an A.S.S.!
I had that 45!
Good, hope you’re singing it now, woman. :).
Great post. I can’t think of a bad apple story off the top of my head, but I’m sure they’re in there, buried deep within the hope-I-forget-this recesses of my brain. Loved your acronym for Alan from South Dakota, and it sounds very apropos. I’m willing to bet you weren’t the only one who had difficulties with him. I wonder who he’s tormenting now…
Really, it could have been my writing just sucked. Seriously, that WAS four years old.
You’re assuming he could differentiate good writing from bad… 🙂
I worked in Law for over 30 years, my last job 21. I had a new client who ran a development company building apartments. He’d email and phone all day every day so much so that I just found it difficult to look after my other important clients, the mums and dads of this World. He thought he was a high flyer. In the end I went to my boss and said that I couldn’t work with this client as well as giving my other clients the attention they needed. He was “high maintenance”. My boss said that I could give him the flick and that I did. I advised him to go to a larger firm where they are used to dealing with important people!!! Didn’t quite put it like that. He was quite upset that he’d been rejected by a small time firm of Lawyers. Best decision I ever made. Was great kicking some A.S.S. 🙂
Ha! Then you feel my pain. I think everyone has had that experience at one time or another. 😉 We all have to kick some and get our own kicked I guess, to keep us humble.:)
I have run into a few Mr, A.S.S.’s in my writing career–particularly when I worked for a home magazine that wrote editorial home articles, as well as advertorial. I did editorial and had some pretty intense run-ins with people trying to use my articles as advertising. I told them I did not work on that end of it–it was so frustrating–people would actually rewrite my stuff and say that some professor at college told them they could write–yeah, right–you can write like an engineer or architect–not like a writer.
Anyway – I have had that line “well, you’re the writer” line thrown at me too–that is usually when I rethink the job.
Your description was spot on – you are a great writer and don’t let anyone ever make you think you are not.
Lou Ann, thank you! And with your writing credentials, that means alot to me. At times, it seems people take writers for granted, but we’re a pretty intelligent and creative lot, we are! Thanks for your nice and encouraging comments. Nice to commiserate with a fellow writer who’s been there. :).
don’t let me fool you – my writing credentials look a lot better than they really are- but it is nice to connect with someone else in the “business”
Unfortunately we all know an arsehat or two or three. I try to look at it as a life lesson/experience and hope like heck that what goes around comes around and bites the arsehat in the arse – ha! Thanks for sharing – have a great day!
Hey Craves, you get me. Thanks. Karma, it does have a way of coming back, doesn’t it? You have a great one as well, friend. :).
You’re a writer, not a mind reader. Sorry you had a bad experience…thanks for the song. The Osmonds were fun…they had a good beat & were easy to dance to!
Thanks, Margarita! All of us have those experiences, it’s just part of life. Not sure what brought that memory out today, but glad you stopped by to read. All experiences are learning experiences, right? Hope you’re singing now….:).
and dancing! Yes, they are learning experiences. The important thing to remember about people like A.S.S. is that it’s REALLY not you! 🙂
As an attorney, most clients are great and very appreciative, however, there’s always that ONE that manages to ruin my day.
You are so right, most people are great! But, there is that one and it’s best to just let it go and not let it ruin a day. Thank you for your nice comment. :).
Unfortunately, things like this happen when we deal with people. Some people are just plain Alans from Southern South Dakotas. I admire people who can put up with bad behavior and not let it ruin their day. I usually get down about it for longer than I should.
I know what you mean. Obviously, I’m the same way. Four years later and it still stings, but then again, I’m the sensitive type. :).
And btw, I just made up the name and state to be able to come up with the A.S.S. thing. I’m sure most folks form Southern South Dakota are great. I seriously don’t remember where this person was from. :).
I seemed to have been blessed in my lifetime to have had some pretty awesome bosses, but somehow I think I might have to brace myself for rougher seas ahead. (Don’t understand why I am in a nautical theme today, but somehow it fits. lol)
I’ve had, for the most part, awesome “bosses” myself. That’s what I get from thumbing through those old journals and remembering. It must the CA sunshine that’s making you feel all nautical-like. Since I’ve been back from vacay and the sunny South, this is the first sunny day I’ve seen in quite some time. Thanks, Sue. :).
I have had several clients like A.S.S in my career. I am not a freelance writer, but writing looms large in my profession too and we are judged on it. People like A.S.S. just don’t understand that to achieve a great outcome on any project requires collaberation, a good specification and communication. I’m sure A.S.S. would not say to a builder, I want a room with four walls, a door and a roof over there, just build it, you’re the expert. Sounds like a real learning experience, though.
Hi CR, you are right! Like I said, most people are wonderful, but we (and I’m saying this in collective sense) seem to focus on that one person we didn’t “win over.” I think that’s human nature. Thanks so much for your comment and taking the time to read and/or scan. :).
Thanks to you Brigitte. Your writing and posts always entertain – Judy
That guy sound horrible!! 😦 What an A.S.S. Sorry you had to had that experience. And your writing is wonderful!!!
Live and learn, right? And thank you so much for that nice comment. :).
Poptastic!!! – I’m going to be humming along to that when I pick my marks up for this semesters essays………! but hey, ‘I’m the writer’ so I should know telepathically exactly what my tutors want regarding tone already?!
Ha! Thank you and hope your marks are GREAT. Sure they will be. 😉
Sorry I’m late in commenting, B—I love that A.S.S. acronym, for starters. This guy is obviously a self-important, pompous tool. I hate clients who do that—they absolve themselves of any responsibility for providing clear direction for what they want, as well as insufficient information about what you need to know. Idiot. Big hug to you!
You’re such a nice lady, MW. Late or not, I always LOVE your wisdom and your comments. And big hugs right back at ya. :). xo
I second what Madame Weebles said… a pompous TOOL. He just wanted to yank your chain… !@#hole!
Yeah, he yanked for a bit but not too hard. Lesson learned.:) Thanks UFBS.
In my career, I have come across several Mr A.S.Ss!! They test our patience and waste our time!
You are so right, but we learn lessons and I guess that’s why they come into our lives, huh? :).
Definitely! Your writing is excellent, and this blog is pure testimony to that! 🙂 🙂
That’s so nice. Thank you!
You`re most welcome! Have a great day!
What an Omegadouche. “You’re the writer. Surprise me.”
Well, YOU’RE the client. Wanna be surprised? Then be happy with what you get.
Ha! Now that’s a nice description. Thanks for the comment. :).
Brigitte! You are so naughty! Alan from Southern South Dakota abbreviatted as A.S.S. LOL! Hilarious! Very well written! It sounds like the guy was in a rotten mood and unfortunately, he chose to vent all his frustrations out on you. Well, at least you got paid! Great post Brigitte!
Why thank you, SL. The getting paid part was the only part I liked. ;).