Thursday, June 16, 2005

Days of Whine and Roses

Okay.

I'm pouring the whine today so break off a hunk of cheese and a nice bit of French bread and pull up a seat.

I hate my job. There. I said it. I loathe and detest it with every fiber of my being. There's so much of the writer in me that I'm drowning in creative juices. I want to write. I want to go back to the days when my other half pulled down a 60 hours a week job, and any money I made through transcription was gravy. To the times when I could write essays and articles instead of transcribing words spoken by others, because it wasn't necessary to earn money to pay bills and buy food and all of that boring un-bohemian stuff. And never more so than today.

What's so special about today? I'm glad you asked. Today I received a slew of emails from the company I transcribe for informing me that there were problems with a) the invoice I submitted on Monday, and b) the work I'd done over the weekend. The invoice problem was twofold. First was the problem that I am crap at math. Asking me to figure out what is a 15% increase from 0.00635 per word is like asking me to describe what the moon tastes like. Dunno. That's the fast answer to that. So I did my best, and came up with a figure which was apparently off by several points of a cent. Well twist my nipple nuts and call me Frank. I fucked up. It happens. Maybe if you had a figure in mind you should have TOLD me what it was instead of making me guess. There's a thought for ya. And WHY was I being asked to do mathematical gymnastics? Because some of the work I had to do this past week were so crap that nobody else wanted to do them. Oh bless ya...I'm not talking about difficult to hear audio. I'm talking about almost freaking IMPOSSIBLE to hear. Work which instead of being a ratio of 1:4 (one hour of transcription audio equals four hours of real time when it comes to transcribing it), but more like 1:6 by the time you've replayed and replayed and guessed and surmised and googled your little ass off. THAT kind of crap. And for this, I was promised the princely sum of 0.00635 PLUS 15% per word!! YAY!! The kind of money you can go on a Caribbean cruise with - NOT!.

But, gentle reader, that is not the worst. Oh no. See, I did 3 of these incrediblecrap audio files last week. The first one was pretty bad, but hey, they don't come up TOO often. Then on Friday afternoon the sysop who assigns these things sent an email saying she had work to be done over the weekend which was due Sunday, and they were going to be offering 15% above the regular rate for it. YAY! So I IM'd her and asked her directly if the reason was because the audio was crap. NO she says, it's because the files have to go directly to the client and half a dozen other people, so you have to double check them before you send them. OK....no problem. I can do an hour by Sunday. Well actually there's an hour for Sunday and I've got 3 hours due Monday. Can you PLEASE do that??!! So I agreed. Now, I need to remind you that the office is in New York, and I'm in Washington, so they're 3 hours ahead of us. I was assigned this work at the end of the NY day on Friday afternoon. No problem. The audio's fine, right? I'm just getting the 15% because of the time constraint, right? And the submitting direct to the client stuff? Yeah.

Only then I take a look at the assignment sheets I've received and discover that a) the hour job for Sunday is actually 1 10 minute and one 92 minute job. Oh, and the 3 hour job is 257 minutes. And they tell me I can't do math?? My four hours has suddenly risen dramatically to more like six hours. Which wouldn't be so bad aside from the fact that the office also has work that you can assign yourself via the internet - those little pissy insurance jobs that I've spoken about before? They're usually an average of 9 or 10 minutes long, and I'd previously self-assigned 30 of them. So do the math, gentle reader and realize I have a SHITLOAD of work due by Monday. But you haven't heard b) yet. So here it is. b) I start working on the stuff due by Sunday - the stuff which goes directly to the client. The 10 minute one...not too bad. Then I load up the 92 minute one and....holy shit batman. I can hear one word in ten. And that's being generous. And this is the transcript which is supposed to go directly to the client. Without being edited or worked over at the office first. So I was lucky enough to find someone online who works for the California office of the NY company I work for, and explained my dilemma. She had to call NY (which at 9pm their time didn't make her very popular) and tell them about it. The upshot was hey, this is a wiretap...it's very terribly important....and you're just going to have to do the best you can with it. Send the first ten pages of the transcript to address A, and then go on and finish the whole thing and send it to addresses everybody else. Wiretaps, for those of you not in the know, are the audio files from hell. Because they're taping someone in secret with the microphone secreted who the hell knows where, the ensuing sound resembles someone whispering from across the room. IF the room is underwater and IF there's an old steam train between you and the microphone. But gentle reader, I stayed with it. I replayed and replayed and replayed until I'd scraped out a transcript of those 92 horrendous minutes - finally emailing it to parts unknown slightly before midnight on Friday.

And yes...I completed the other so-called 3 hour job, and the 30 insurance jobs and had them all in and emailed by Sunday night.

So this is where the other part of the office email comes in. Apparently, because my sysop told me in an email (which naturally I had deleted over the weekend), and in IM that I would receive 15% increase for the 10 and 92 minute jobs - but DIDN'T PUT IT IN WRITING ON THE FRIGGING ASSIGNMENT SHEETS, the office manager Nazi who was reconciling my invoice didn't think I was deserving.

Now that would have fucked me off enough on its face. But this email came after the other emails. The four emails I'd received which pertained to four of the insurance jobs that I'd turned in. The four emails which threatened to take away my A grade (yes folks, 0.00635 per word IS in fact an A GRADE RATE) because of mistakes on the submitted transcripts. And let's put this in perspective for you, shall we? These were not mistakes on the scale of misspelled words or chunks of missing audio. Oh bless you no. These were mistakes on the scale of 'you put a double space where there should have been a single space' and 'four door sedan should be written four-door sedan'.

So the reality is that despite the fact that I transcribed about 10 hours of work this weekend - work which they were falling over themselves for me to take on Friday, they have the temerity to piss around with a double space and a missing hyphen and 15% increase I was promised but not in the place I should have been promised. I never came closer to telling them precisely what they could do with their job. Complete with flawless punctuation and impeccable grammar and razor-sharp spelling.

But I couldn't.

Because now I'm the one who has to work. Not because I want to but because if I don't work, we don't eat. Babybat doesn't get her new contacts. Xander doesn't get his new shoes. And I know, I know they're my responsibility and it's my job now to get them through their childhood and off to their own lives.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't SUCK! I can't chuck this job because we live in this place which is in the back of beyond and jobs aren't readily available. I can't chuck this job because Azrael isn't my ex (for which, most of the time I am eternally grateful, I add very hastily) and much as I love him, he's not the most reliable of people when it comes to holding down a job. So now the situation is reversed. What goes around comes around. Here I am working at this job I despise and can't quit and I'm longing for those halcyon days where my ex was working at a job he despised and I was taking care of children and writing articles and essays and being incredibly bohemian with the safety net of someone else bringing in a steady paycheck every month.

And yes, I hear people say that if I wanted it enough I could make time to write. And I suppose they're right. I could. But these well-meaning people are not sitting hunched over a computer transcribing forty hours of real time in a weekend, at the end of which gentle reader, you have to believe me when I tell you, creative writing is the very LAST thing I want to be doing. In some weird, sponge-like vampiric fashion the very act of transcribing the words of others drains my own creativity.

Oh, and by the way....I hate my job.

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