I promised you guys more race relations today, but I’m going to fail you. I figure we’re being a tad gloomy about the Lusty Weevil these days, so I’m writing you a post in my own favorite pub in my old hometown, Albany’s The Pub, drinking a pint at one of the wood tables and discussing my inadequacies as a boss.
As it turns out, I’m a lousy boss.
Allow me to first define ‘boss’. ‘Boss’ usually means ‘clients’. They’re not your real boss. They can’t really tell you what to do. By and large, though, they’re responsible for your paycheck, and they are in charge of the current project, so you do in fact answer to them. Their only differentiation from a normal boss is that they are not responsible for your health insurance. Though they should be. I’m pretty sure the ulcers I have are their fault.
I just became a boss/client myself. Not my usual state of affairs. I actually cannot remember having ever personally hired a freelancer for my own project before. I say this so that as this story unfolds, you will not immediately think, “That asshole,” but rather, “That poor, misguided, inexperienced soul. Oh, well, she’ll learn.”
I’ve hired a couple of people recently to do all the things that I personally do not know how to do. Well. Not all the things. It is not within my economic means to hire someone to do impressionist painting for me. Or make Brazilian-style roasted meats. Or perform the entire works of Shakespeare in an ongoing festival in my living room. We have limited the hires to those things that I do not know how to do business-wise, and unfortunately, due to budget constraints, ‘run a business’ was not something I could afford to hire someone to do.
Which is probably how I wound up being a lousy boss. I’m pretty sure if I had hired someone to be the business-runner for me, he or she would have been a pretty good boss. I, however, suck at it.
Here’s how I found out I was a lousy boss.
My web guys sort of plaintively/firmly got in touch with me the other day. I do not know how they managed to be both plaintive and firm, but that is why I hired them. They are damned good at paradox, and that is good for rogues. The gist of the email, and I am both paraphrasing and exaggerating, was, “Dude. You have disappeared off the face of the earth and though the total of expenses is normally due upon project completion, that is sort of contingent on you continuing to finish the project. Please stop being the Invisible Rogue and pay us. Also, if you wanted to, you know, finish your website, you might find that beneficial on a personal level. Just saying.”
I have sent these letters before. It’s what you’re supposed to do when you haven’t been paid and/or when your client isn’t finishing the project. You’re supposed to send a nice, courteous wake-up call. They are usually to perfectly nice clients, who I know bear me no actual malice and who probably are completely unaware that there is a problem on my end. My letters usually have the following subtext:
“Um, hi. If you don’t pay me, I can’t eat anything other than oatmeal for the next week. FEED ME, SEYMOUR!”
I try not to sound quite that desperate, but my point is I know this problem. This is the problem of having a lousy boss. These are the clients who delay the project indefinitely, who want weird changes, who disappear entirely for weeks so that no work can be done, and who neglect to realize that there is no overhead company paying a salary. The client does not realize (or, in the Alternate Universe of Dipwads, does not care) that your personal welfare depends on this project being completed. No project finish = no rent money. That simple.
I’m that guy. Oh, gods, I’m THAT guy. How did I come to be that guy?
How did I come to be a lousy boss?
I don’t know how to set aside time to do things for myself. I know how to do things for clients. I am the best goddamn Gal Friday in the business. I will break my back to make sure what I deliver is to the client’s liking, that it’s delivered on time, and that it accomplishes what they need.
All of that takes some serious time and energy. Whatever’s left of my time goes to my projects. By the time I’ve finished my clients’ projects, though, I am usually not thinking, “Sweet! I’ll work MORE, but for ME. That sounds like twelve kinds of awesome smothered in special sauce and triple-baked with cheese!”
I am usually thinking, “Sweet. It’s done. Maybe I’ll go see Iron Man for the third time.”
And that’s all fine and dandy when I am the only person working on a project for me. But when I have other people working on a project for me, it bodes well to think of them as another kind of client. I don’t owe them work, but I do owe them the courtesy of remembering that they are now suffering a lousy boss. Unlike the many other times that I have encountered the lousy boss, I have the power to do something about this particular one. Namely, I can stop being lousy.
The consequences of being a lousy boss are dire. It may already be too late.
The second I got the email (which, by the way, was infinitely more courteous than my summarized counterpart above) I realized that I was being a complete loser, and I immediately coughed up the remaining portion of the payment. As a result, I got a quick thank-you from the designer, which included the following sentence:
“Thanks. Now my cats will get to eat this week.”
Yes. That’s right. My lousiness was so extraordinarily lousy that it STARVED KITTENS.
Do not be a lousy boss. The kittens deserve to live.
Subscribe. More guilt trips tomorrow.