'Be anxious for nothing..." ~Philippians 4:6

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I recently got a call to work at an event. I was told when, where, and the occasion. I was told what to do, and who else would be participating. I went. I did what I was asked to do. The event ended. The happy person who greeted me and the other participants when we arrived, was suddenly nowhere to be found. I waited around with others who had been on the job. The contact person finally approached us, gave us compliments, hugs, and hearty handshakes, and then walked away. We looked at each other with what were obviously familiar expressions on our faces. The look of The Screwed. That wide-eyed, mouth agape, wrinkled brow that says, "Doggone it, it happened again". None of us expected to leave the event empty handed. Our thoughts turned to the person who had enlisted our participation in the first place. Had our services been offered up for free? Once again, we were left feeling stupid. We all shook our heads. It was our fault. We should have cleared it all up before we even left home. We've been engaged in the work far too long to still be stiffed AFTER the work is done, or made to wait an undetermined amount of time to be paid. The most difficult part to swallow was that the whole thing had been orchestrated by a mutual friend.
I imagined how the conversation went.
"Hey. I need some people for this event. Do you know anybody?"
"Yeah. I know who I can get"
"They're not going to charge me an arm and a leg are they?"
"Naw. They're good peeps. I'll take care of them".

It's true. You teach people how to treat you. What's stopping someone from using you if you allow it? When people know they can get away with unscrupulous behavior, unless they're stopped by force-- or their own integrity--they usually proceed. You've got to decide how regularly you are going to allow yourself to be impacted by the inconsideration of others. You've got to decide whether or not your time and effort is worth something. You've got to know when you are employed and when you are celebrating volunteerism. Not knowing can present a huge problem, and if you're not a fan of confrontation, the person who will get saddled with the bulk of your frustration is you.

When the job you've been hired to do, (or you assumed you were hired to do) is done, and it's time to be compensated, why do the very people who employed you suddenly act as if they have amnesia? Why do they suddenly adopt blank stares as if they have just been returned to Earth by their alien kidnappers? No. Why are YOU left waiting around as if you're begging for a handout? Why are you treated as if you've stolen something? The question of the hour after the work is done is, Why hasn't someone approached you with some kind of negotiable tender, or AT LEAST given you some indication as to when you should expect to receive it? Why isn't compensation FOR the work handled as efficiently as the execution OF the work? How people are to be paid for their work should be discussed right along with everything else concerning the work. How does compensation become a non-issue? How do people FORGET to pay for the work they contract? The employer didn't have to wait for the work to be done, so why do you have to wait to be paid?
Save yourself a lot of grief. Know the terms of an assignment BEFORE you take it on.

I'm beginning to wonder if some people think that you, unlike them, do not need money to survive. They need, want and demand theirs. You? Oh no. You're fine. Your bills are obviously paid by the Happy Bill-Paying Fairy. Do you REALLY look like you have it like that? I think some people are laboring under the misapprehension that you are sustained by air and their compliments. There are people who want what you have to offer--often at the very last minute, and for indefinite periods of time--but there is no mechanism in their brain, no urging in their heart, that motivates them to show appreciation for what you do by paying you for your work. There are people who are constantly expecting others to make an investment without ever seeing a return on it. All the while, they prosper as a result of the labor of others. Oh no! Sounds like slavery has made a sophisticated comeback.

I have found that the most arrogant and demanding people are the stingiest. People who want the best for themselves, don't mind if others exist on mediocrity. People who want their money in hand before they lift a finger, have no problem making you wait for yours--or not get it at all. Apparently, you should just be happy to be on the job.
There are those who delight in bragging about who they know, and how easily they can retain the services of others, but have absolutely no regard for how the lives of their acquaintances are sustained. They've amassed a list of go-to people who they know are capable of getting a job done. What they HAVEN'T done is shown an ounce of respect for the fact that what the people do is WORK that is worthy of compensation. It's hard to exist in a work environment and maintain a positive attitude while knowing that money has been spent for various, often frivolous things, yet none has been reserved for the people who actually do the bulk of the work. It makes you wonder just how vital your participation really is. It makes you wonder what perception of you is held.

Have you inadvertently established a reputation of being reasonable, gullible, easy-going, averse to business, or willing to lend a hand? You're "nice", "humble", "helpful". That may be true, but if you keep dealing with certain people, and don't get a clue quickly, you may soon add "broke" and "homeless" to the list. It shouldn't cost you to work. If, in the course of your work, money is regularly flowing OUT of your accounts, and rarely flowing in, surprise. You are a volunteer.
"God is going to bless you" is nice to hear--and thank God for that, because if you are waiting for some people to follow through with writing a check when you are done with the job they've arranged for you to do, you may be waiting a very long time.

People get awfully tense and offended when they ask you if you have a fee for the services they seek, and you actually give them one. They also seem to forget--while they cry broke--that you didn't call them. The decision to spend ANY time at all doing something for no compensation should be YOURS. If you're like me and have an embarrassingly long history of walking away from numerous jobs, and the only thing you have in your hand is traces of sweat from the palm of someone who shook it and said, "Thank you", you are probably re-evaluating how and with whom you do business. Thank Yous are nice, but they're not legal tender. What IS it that causes people to consistently expect something for nothing?

Some people want others to assume they are big shots, but their business practices are poor at best. They want to have access to resources, but care less if those resources are replenished. With the advent of Paypal, all of the usual lame excuses for NOT being paid have lost their validity. There's no reason to leave people high and dry unless there was never an intention to pay them in the first place. If you have worked, you shouldn't have to go through a lot of any colored tape to be paid.

I'm not saying that I've divorced myself from helping or volunteering. There are times when it is necessary to serve, but I've made a few mental notes. If I am going to volunteer, the first person who will know it is me.

Suggesting people for a job should be followed by "I respect them, their time, and the work they do". Before you obligate others for a task, you must know that doing a favor for YOUR friend, associates or business requires YOUR time and effort. Don't be surprised if the people you call on to do the job are laboring under the justifiable assumption that they are employees--NOT volunteers. Promising the labor of others without arranging fair and timely compensation for the work they do is the first lesson in Pimpology 101, and some folks, I'm afraid, are one Super Fly hat and a platform shoe away from earning a diploma.
How many times do people have to find themselves in the uncomfortable and disappointing state of Hoodwink before they decide that enough is enough? I suppose you just have to make a decision as to what you will and won't do; who you will and won't deal with; whose calls you will or won't take; who is good for a handshake deal, and who must remit a deposit and sign an iron clad contract.
No more dealings with the shady, the manipulative or the dishonest. Their promises and flattery don't buy groceries.
A good way to lose friends is to use and abuse them by devaluing their work and worth. Maybe it's not a novel concept, but I wish people would treat others the way they would want to be treated--ESPECIALLY if they are in the same line of business. Those manipulative buzzwords, "exposure" and "ministry" already have valid meanings. Neither is a synonym for "free services".
There may very well be millions of people who will want the job you have to offer, but there's a reason why they were not called. They, no doubt, have a "cash up front" policy to protect themselves and their precious time. They've been in an empty pocket position, and have no desire to assume it again.

1 comment:

  1. Oooooo, I had to pray as I read this one! I felt myself "going there"...I really did. Had I been in your shoes, I probably would have called that mutual friend and suggested they refrain from offering my services for any future events, if this kind of treatment is to be expected. Pray for me...GOD's still working on me!