Friday, January 22, 2010

A Stitcher on Strike

Well, my day just opened up in a way I was not at all expecting. As some of you know, when I am not wrangling kids or writing about my crappy sewing skills, I am the assistant editor of a local magazine. It is a job I do part-time, from home, and it nets me just enough money to pay for daycare for my little one and some extra for fabric and high-fat, low-fiber snacks. It keeps my mind nimble and gives me a socially acceptable way to correct other people's grammar.

It has drawbacks, of course, one being that I have to be available one day each month to proof the issue when it comes back from the designers. The problem with this is that though there may be a target date and time for this event to occur, it never quite works out that way. Perhaps we miss deadline by a day, or are even early, and this will cause the proof to come back off schedule. But no matter when it arrives, I have to be ready to sit down with it for 5 or 6 hours and find every mistake possible. And every month, without fail, I have managed to do this. I have hired extra babysitters and involved friends and had my husband take off work, and I have NEVER missed a proof day.

And, I'm just going to go ahead and say this, because it's MY BLOG, dammit: I am the best writer they have, and likely the best editor they have ever had. They are constantly thanking me for my excellent work and for my "dedication" to the magazine. They luurrrrve me.

When I started working for them, the terms of my contract were that I would be paid monthly, and that checks would go out on the 1st of each month. About halfway through the year, as the recession really started to take its toll, they told me and all the other staff that paychecks would have to start going out on the 15th instead. Ad payments were coming in more slowly, and so they were finding they had more money in the coffers mid-month than at the beginning. I understood that, and had no problem with it.

Occasionally, I would find that checks weren't mailed until the 17th, and since our mail system here is slow, that would mean an extra 4 or 5 days without daycare money, but still I was patient and understanding. Until today.

This morning I checked our bank account to discover that we had only $94 to our name. Today is payday for David, but he neglected to tell me that his first paycheck from his new job would come in the mail and not through direct deposit. I had a $54 check from Cafe Press (thanks y'all!) that I could deposit, and that would ensure today's daycare payment woudn't bounce, but then we'd be pretty much shit out of luck for the weekend until his check arrived. But none of this should have been an issue because I should have been paid by now.

So, one week after checks were to have been mailed, I emailed my bosses to say, Hey, guys, what's up? Gee, you know, my check still isn't here, so maybe it got lost in the mail. Do you think you could put a stop on that and cut me another and I'll come pick it up today? Thanks!

Turns out they haven't cut any checks yet for this month and aren't planning to until maybe next week IF money comes through. ("Sorry for the delay!")

Now, I'm not pissed that they haven't sent my money. That is annoying, yes, and inconvenient, sure. BUT TO NOT TELL ME? Were they hoping I just wouldn't notice? That I'm so flush with cash I wouldn't mind waiting an extra week or two? Does my "dedication" not warrant even a brief email?

I actually have a lot of patience, and I try very, very hard to be understanding and accommodating, but when I'm treated with that kind of disregard, it makes me want to throw things.

But, I'm always telling my 3-year-old, "It's okay to be mad, but it's not okay to throw forks at your sister." So, I'm not going to throw things.

I'm going on a mini-strike.

For the next few days, I'm not working. I'm going to sew. I'm going to write crazy humor articles for Quilter's Home and research other mags that accept humor pieces (Did you know that Smithsonian magazine has a humor page? And that apparently they pay, like, $1500 for one piece? And that everything I've read in there so far sucks? THAT is work I should be doing right now.)

One of the things I have been wanting to write about here is that I have a personal goal for this year, one which I haven't really mentioned to anyone out loud. I want to try to quit this job by the end of the year. I want to pursue my own writing and try to find out if I can match the monthly income I am making from the editing work through freelancing. If I can even get 2/3 of what I currently make, that would still work. I have enjoyed the editing work, and I think it has been good experience. But I also think that, within the next 12 months, the Bitchy Stitcher should become a free agent.

But, if I don't get paid, it could happen a lot sooner than that.


Linda said...

Good for you! I frequently find that the "nicer" I am, the more I'm taken for granted! Give it right back to them.
Lurking Linda

kheli said...

I got your back, sister! I don't work for free, that would be called "volunteering", and the place I spend 8-10 hrs a day is NOT a non-profit! Besides, your writing is fun, funny, witty and relevant. I am quite sure you can make it even better as a frr-agent!

Cherie said...

Okay, you scared me with that you weren't going to stitch anymore until, like, the children were perfectly behaved ALL the time. Yikes! I can't believe something as important as paycheck isn't given the highest priority on the communication ladder. Perhaps they are trying the ostrich approach? I say, YOU GO GIRL!!! You will make it on your own, I know you will.

~Michelle~ said...

I'm speaking from experience, you need to make sure they pay you first. Employees have priority (up to a certain dollar amount) over any other creditor. And not to be negative, but it really does sound like they're going under, so good on you to be proactive and start looking for other opportunities. You can thank me later for the uplifting words of joy in this comment (been there, done that)

Lisabee said...

uCongratulations on not throwing any forks!

Also, I totally think you should write humor columns. Anywhere. Possibly on any topic. I love reading your blog, and it's always so grammatically correct.

Tina said...

Go on, throw a fork! You know you want to!

joanne lendaro said...

Hey Girl!! You've got to do, what you've gotta do! We know that you CAN do it. Now get out that BIG stick and start beating the bushes to find the right gig for you! You are too talented to put up with this kinda crap.

quiltaholic said...

Good for you for taking the reigns! With so much depressing crap going on in the world, we could all use a little more humor - and who better to give us a dose of it than you!

Love 2 Quilt said...

Maybe a fork isn't big enough to throw their way. Something like a baseball bat might get their attention. Whoops, probably shouldn't give you any bad advice. But I totally agree that they could very well have informed you about your check being late. But it's pretty bad when you have to ask them. Give 'em hell.

Yuki said...

Look out for you first! My sister worked at a place where they started paying late and then later and then not at all. People kept hanging on. The boss kept saying that he would pay them. The phone got turned off and still people hung on. They all left without a penny.

Love your blog. You're good and you deserve to get paid.

ttfn :) Yuki

2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

no money! no workey! its the 22nd for crying out loud...! Strike!
* putting on my picket line shoes *

im with you sister!

Jane Macdermott said...

I read a 'few' blogs :) and I really get into yours. I am absorbed by your writing. I agree with the strike, sheesh, if they can't tell or pay you, where's the incentive to do your great job!!.

Rochelle said...

Are you an employee of the company? Most states have strick laws about timely payment of employees. You could be entitled to additional monies if they violate your state laws. If you want me to check on your state when I get to the office on Monday just email me.

Chris said...

There were years where I worked full time, cared for an ill husband, had two toddlers underfoot, and wrote freelance on the side for 4 different publications - all to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. And YES that kind of dedication SHOULD be recognized, respected and reimbursed on a timely basis. You have made sacrifices for your employer and they should go to bat for you in return. The publishing industry is driven by ad money, and sadly (heavy sigh) the very people who make it all possible (writers and editors) are last ones to see that money coming in. You have an amazing wit and talent. You can and will meet your goal!

Laurel said...

I hope your missing check comes in soon. This year has been hard on everyone -- no raises, no matching 401(k), unpaid furloughs (did I spell that right?), not to mention all the people who just plain lost their jobs. While reading your blog, that's what I was afraid had happened, that they decided they couldn't afford your services anymore and that they hadn't told you.

I have a friend who is a waitress and she worked for a resturant for over 3 months to the tune of "we'll pay you as soon as we can" and never saw a red cent (why are they called red cents, by the way -- 'cause of the copper?). She's suing them, of course, but that doesn't help when you can't buy groceries or pay the mortgage.

Good luck on the job hunting front as a freelance writer. You certainly have the skills and a great use of vocabulary. So go for it!

Erin said...

you go, girl. seriously, that's just rude.

i think it would be quite a luxury (from this far away) to have a part-time, at-home job editing for a magazine, but this is only because i'm unaware of the pressures and stresses... but when the checks aren't coming, and you *need* them, and they haven't so much as bothered to tell you... well.

off you go, then.

i love how you recognize your talent unabashedly, forthright, with strength. you could land that smithsonian job.

go ye forth, sister.