In 2018 Charles Traffas, who runs Chart Marketing out of his home in Wichita, KS, called me to edit a book in MS Word and to teach him how to use the application, at an agreed on hourly rate. He did pay my invoice in 2103. He said he was desperate for help; several people had come to his home office, but did not know how to use the advanced features of MS Word and could not get the job done. He called me again in April 2016, and we agreed on the same terms and hourly rate for payment. I would be paid an hour’s travel time to/from and the meeting at his office and my hourly rate for work at home on my computer. Before I started work in June 2016, I had already given him free technical advice by email, and had told him I would not charge him. In 2013, I had also not charged for all of the time I spent on his work, and forgave at least seven (7) hours of work. I like to give good value to my clients. Even though I fixed the coding problems in the book and did extra work he asked for–and he said my he liked the work–still he insists that I did not do what he told me to do and refuses to pay my invoice. When we met at his office on June 1, 2016, to discuss the work, he told me I am incompetent and that the work I was to do is not worth paying for. When I tried to teach how to edit the code himself, as he had asked, he turned into the “boss from hell,” and started screaming that I was “making things too complicated,” coding the text of his book was just “like making sausages,” and he should be able to me how to do it just like he can “tell his plumber to fix his pipes.” Frankly I should have quit right then, but I admit I was curious to see how far he would push it. Here was the openly abusive boss, the kind who did not try to hide his hostility, who had pushed me around, insulted, and used me, while admitting I did excellent work. I knew I would not have much time invested, so I could afford to charge off the invoice to a loss on my taxes, unlike the times on assignment as an IT consultant when I was desperate for the money and had to put up with the bullying. He ended up using me, and tried to pay me less than $4.82 per hour. I told him that was insulting, and I told him to keep his money. When it came time to pay, he changed the terms. He claims all consultants who work for him get paid an agreed-on amount set before starting work–not the hourly rate for the time it takes to actually do the job, or how he had paid me in 2018 and was to pay me in 2016. He claims I agreed to accept a total payment of $70.00–for travel time and the meeting at his office, and even that he says I did not earn because I was late–and nothing for actually doing his work. You ‘gotta’ admit this guy really knows how to use his workers. After a lifetime of being in business in Information Technology and education, I still learned another lesson. Follow your instincts about the values, or lack thereof, of the person you are dealing with. Integrity still matters, even in “the race to the bottom.” Have the client sign a formal agreement, and do not try to get along with an abusive employer. I did not terminate this toxic work-situation, as I should have, and as I have done on occasion. Frankly I admit to being curious to see whether he would actually pay me, and, just as expected, he did get the work for free. I admit to egging him on by agreeing with him that my work is worthless. It is so easy to agree and say you are the biggest idiot around. That’s what the boss with the fragile ego wants to hear. During our meeting on June 1, before I even started the work, he said and still keeps writing in multiple emails: that I am incompetent, that I could not be trusted to work on his book, that I needed to “train myself to use MS Word,” and that the work itself is “not worth anything” and “no business would pay” for it. So I got what I should and did expect! I did not get paid and still get insulted for doing the work. This is the stuff of schizophrenia: the “master” tells you are worthless to beat you down–to make him/herself feel superior–while expecting you to break yourself to do your best work for little or no pay. But your best is never good enough! When you are on your own in dealing with the “boss from hell,” expect him to treat you like a wage slave “not worth his hire.” These are the rules in the “new” economy where apparently religious people also follow the religion of money. Even though I’ve asked him not to contact me, he still writes me belittling emails telling me how worthless I am, that he is justified in “stiffing me,” and that he will pray for me. The religious right denies reality–workers work for money to pay the bills, not prayers. Workers want to be paid a fair wage; workers also want to be treated with dignity. They want the respect owed to them as professionals and the value of their work to be to acknowledged.
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