Every job has disadvantages. The disadvantage of private tutoring (my main source of income*) is that it is casual work – very, very casual. So casual that even when I actually have work, and no-one cancels, people very often either (a) Forget I’m coming, and (b) Forget to pay me, or (c) Both.
Generally I plaster on a polite smile and remind them to pay me – usually once or twice is more than enough. Other times, people make me feel bad for asking. Other other times, it takes more than one or two reminders.
At the end of the school year, as my income dropped by its annual 90% for the two months until mid-February, one family owed me $105. I called them about ten times, and was told four times that, “She’ll call you back as soon as she gets in.” She never did – in fact, she happened to almost never be the one answering the phone. She was always “out” or when I called her work she had “just gone to the car” and so on. I physically went to her workplace, and so did CJ, and on both occasions (which we’d arranged with her) “something came up” and she wasn’t there. She “lost contact details” about four times.
A couple of nights ago I was startled when she actually answered her phone, and enormously relieved when she said she’d had the cash waiting for me for weeks, and would be at her work all day the next day.
I went there. No-one was there. I called all three of her numbers twice during the extremely hot half hour I waited for her to show up. Two were turned off (including her mobile), and one was answered by her partner who said he didn’t know where she was.
I decided to amuse myself by calling all three numbers every hour from then on. CJ also visited her workplace during those hours, and again saw no sign of life.
After leaving around twenty messages saying, “Hi this is Louise. I’m just wondering what’s happening. Talk to you soon!” the lady answered.
CJ and I went to her house (on the literal edge of Canberra) and picked up the money. I remained polite, but I let her know that I would not be able to continue with her.
Not very awesome, really. The one awesome thing is that I never, ever need to deal with her again.
Also, our leather footstool spontaneously produced this smiley face.
*if you don’t count CJ
6 thoughts on “#269: I Quit!”
I’m thinking you should insist on money up front in the future.
Sounds like you spent far more than a hundred dollars of your time to collect. If it were me I would probably have more to say than just telling her I’d be unable to continue.
Mark: I considered thinking up an epic and insulting quit a la the infamous plane escape slide, but I really like her kids, and in Canberra we’re guaranteed to run into one another again. So I stayed polite *sigh* Good practice for dealing with the vagaries of publishing, though, which are even worse.
I know the feeling of not getting paid for tutoring. I never got up to over $100 owed though, and my students were generally pretty good about catching up the next time. Glad to hear you have acquired your earnings 🙂
Jolyon: I’ve often reached several hundred dollars (a combination of several people). And that was pre-CJ, so I had no income (other than a partial dole) and no credit card.
You showed more patience and determination than I can usually muster. And you got results.
W: When people owe me moolah, I don’t forget. Or take a hint.