April was completely overshadowed by my female greyhound, Lara, being ill from start to finish. We noticed she was limping badly and had a swollen back leg with a strange lump on her foot over the Easter weekend. The vet thought she had an abscess, so she lanced it, but instead it turned out to be a strange case of blood vessels that had somehow clumped together and risen to the surface. As it wouldn’t stop bleeding (she’d cut an artery), we had to take her to the Queen Mother Hospital in north London where she stayed for a couple of days.
To cut a long story short, after several tests, including a full CT scan, endless bandage changes (the bleeding never stopped entirely) and suspected cancer, the specialist recommended amputation. The operation took place nearly two weeks ago and since then Lara’s had a few complications and the whole healing process is taking a lot longer than it apparently usually does. But given that this time last week I was talking to the vet about the possibility of having to put her to sleep as she didn’t seem to be coping either mentally or physically without her leg, we’re now moving in the right direction and there have been signs of improvement.
When you’ve got a lot of cr*p in your personal life (we’ve got a couple of teenage girls in the house as well…), your tolerance for any other cr*p drops right down. Well, that’s what I find.
Fed up with some direct clients (individuals and small companies in the main) taking an absolutely age to pay (unlike the agencies I work for, which are usually regular as clockwork) and sometimes needing the threat of legal action to click the relevant buttons in their bank accounts to send me a transfer, I have decided to ask for 50% payment upfront and the other 50% prior to delivery from now on. If that scares some direct clients away, so be it. These are not usually people who are going to become regular clients as they often only have one job to offer. And I’d rather not work at all than have to waste my precious time chasing payments, listening to endless excuses about it materialising ‘next week’ (I’ve now heard this from one client since the beginning of March), being on the receiving end of grumpy emails because you’ve dared to bother them again with another reminder and sometimes wondering if I’m ever going to see the money at all.
These situations remind me of when I was a teacher of English way back when in Spain giving a lesson to a teenage boy in his house as I did every week. Only once his parents weren’t there, so they’d given my payment to him. At the end, he held the envelope out to me and when I made to take it, he quickly whisked it away, laughing at his hilarious joke (but he certainly didn’t find it amusing when I told his father what had happened and he never did anything similar again).
Or the time when the English school I worked for in Madrid did some sort of fiddle with our monthly salaries and divided them into two pay cheques. Arriving in the office to receive mine, my boss gave me a cheque for a pilfering amount and said that was all he could afford to pay me that month. No, that wasn’t very funny either, even after he’d produced the other cheque for the larger amount making up the difference stuttering apologies as I unleashed the full extent of my ****-off-and-die look. The next academic year, I was working for a better school, at a higher rate per hour with no nonsense.
That’s what it’s all about after all, isn’t it? Onwards and upwards.
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3 thoughts on “What I learned in April 2016”
So sorry to hear about your trials and tribulations, Nikki – I hope Lara is on the mend now and you can stop worrying. I’ve been down the vet hospital route so many times with my accident-prone Springer and it never gets any easier…. I hope you were insured too – it all sounds very expensive!
And yes, the last thing you want after all that hassle is clients not paying their dues. I worked for a new direct client earlier this year and although they seemed very nice, I knew I’d have to outsource a large chunk of the work, so decided I’d have to ask for an advance payment of 50% to put my mind at rest. They didn’t quibble at all and paid within days. The balance was also paid promptly on completion and more work has since arrived. I suppose if you don’t ask, you don’t get – so go for it! And much love to Lara 🙂
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Thanks, Claire. Lara does seem to be getting better now. It’s just a long process. Unfortunately, it’s going to cost more than I’m insured for. Despite large monthly premiums for both greyhounds, I guess the fact that I got them when they were older (Lara was six and is now ten) means that I’d have to pay an even higher premium for more cover.
I think it’s logical to ask for payment for our services upfront from clients that are individuals. We’re easy to find as our details are usually online and we belong to associations, but some clients might not be bona fide. I’m glad others are asking for advance payment as well.