Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sometimes I question the sanity...

I do some freelance work. I have one pretty long-term client who is generally pretty easy to work with but who occasionally asks for some really last minute stuff and pretty much expects me to drop everything I'm doing and take care of his stuff. And most of the time, that's ok. He'd been saying for several weeks now that he had some money for me and so I wasn't really sweating some of the stuff that's looming for me. But when I talked to him today to try and arrange a time to finally get to meet he tells me that since I haven't done the billing in a while, there's really no money for him to give me and implies that it's my fault.

Now, here's the problem I have with that....

a) One client, whose stuff I spent HOURS on and who I just spent nearly $10 mailing something to via certified mail because she's been bitching she didn't get the previous mailings, just dropped a big check about 3 weeks ago.

b) All of the billing there is to do is for clients who have outstanding amounts dating back to 2007 or earlier and who have gotten multiple bills, collection letters, etc. and haven't responded.

c) The couple of newer clients that haven't been billed? It's because I have no record of time spent on their files and therefore have no idea what to bill them for.

This is someone whose whole office we moved on the spur of the moment, without his help, a couple Sundays ago. So, like 4 hours of packing, moving, cleaning, taking shit out to his house after getting a call early on a Sunday morning and there was the expectation that we'd just drop everything and take care of it...

I dunno, I don't think it's unreasonable of me to be a tad miffed that 2 weeks ago I was told that there was money for me and now I get asked "Why aren't you able to pay your bills? You have a job..." Yes, I have a job. And I had 6 months of no work and scraping by on almost nothing that I was getting for unemployment. The tiny bit of savings I had was gone and I was stupidly counting on getting paid for the work I've done. Silly me.

So, I'll be looking for either another freelance gig or a second "real" job here shortly. Sigh. And then deal with the fallout when I am not available to drop everything for this long-term client at the drop of a hat. And probably lose the one really good, shiny, stellar reference that's even somewhat recent that I've got.

Ahhh, freelancing... the best gig in the world. Except when it's not.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Peerless

Most people in the workforce who work in an office have colleagues with vaguely similar titles who work in the office, as well. However, most of the time, in a smaller business or in a business where different divisions of the business sit in a specific area (like accounting or HR, for instance) there is but one Administrative Assistant or Office Manager. Therefore, that person has no real "peers" in the office setting. In most cases, pretty much every position is seen as being superior to an Administrative Assistant. As such, there can be a real feeling of isolation for the Admin. My current job function is Administrative Assistant, even if that is not my title. While I have the skills and abilities to be able to do more than I currently do and while the primary manager would like to see me utilizing more of my skills, for some reason the person who would assign those tasks to me will not speak to me (Euroboss) and I happen to know this has created some issues. I am not sure exactly what his issue with me is. I've never not accomplished something that this person has managed to bring himself to ask me to do. I do not kiss his ass or fall at his feet in worship, which MAY be the issue. Or perhaps (because he is not American), he looks upon me as a stupid American. It could also be that to him I am "just a secretary" and thus should not be given more complex tasks. It could have something to do with the fact that the person in this position before I got here was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. (I am basing this on things I've seen and comments I've heard). Because this opportunity had been presented before and I had been initially rejected for it (they said they needed a different skillset) and because Euroboss was the original hiring manager I tend to think that I would not have been his choice when they filled the position for a second time and that's why I am being snubbed.

But I suspect that his unspoken (at least to my face) rejection of me has given the "green light" for the rest of the team to snub me, as well. I base this on the fact that although there is a weekly team lunch that I am supposed to be invited to, they often leave for this lunch without a word to me (and it isn't at a set time or place every week so it isn't as if I am not in the assigned meeting spot at the assigned time).

Over the years, I've grown used to the isolation that being an Admin. brings. You have to be careful to not be too chummy with the manager level people because then the rest of the office eyes you with suspicion thinking that you are the "spy" for the managers. Since you may not have the tech skills of the "regular workers" (as is the case in my current position... I work with a bunch of engineers) you have nothing particularly insightful to add when they are discussing work stuff over lunch. And you also have to be aware when management level people have seen you rubbing elbows with the "regular workers" and start asking pointed and probing questions of you in order to get information about certain employees. I've been in the position of being asked to basically "rat out" people and that isn't a position you want to be in (if you do, then the "regular workers" will, of course, not want anything to do with you and if you don't, then management dubs you "not a team player" and if you aren't fired outright, you will be denied raises/promotions/etc.)

I'm not saying I want to be best buddies with my co-workers, but I would at least like the courtesy of being invited to lunch. I know that the fact that I usually need a ride works against me. But I think that there is some deeper flaw (or flaws) that work to set me apart. I've been told that were I somewhere other than The Frozen Tundra that my work life would be different. I am not altogether sure if I believe that. But maybe it's because I've been the "different" person for so much of my life that I just don't know anything else. I really wish I could just not let it get to me, but it does. On the up side, I figure it can only get better, right?