Getting Paid

Saturday morning on the farmstead.

Nothing pressing until 8:30 AM so I decided to whip up a fresh breakfast of new winter onions,  freshly harvested chives and newly dug winter potatoes and eggs.

I was standing by the sink scrubbing the potatoes and onions when I spotted someone  coming up the driveway with our garbage can in hand.

I knew why he was stopping.

We installed a new metal roof on one of his sheds earlier this week, and my hunch was, he wanted to settle up.

I was right.

It was a tiny job, as jobs go.  I had the crew there for just one morning.   The wind was brutal that day.   25 to 35 miles per hour sustained winds, with even higher gusts.  We were handing  24 ft long sheets of roof metal, and  at the end of the day I came home exhausted.

It was one of those jobs I would just as soon of not done…(lots of hand holding,  this person tends to fret, and when the dust all settled,  I probably cleared less than a couple of hundred dollars total.

I did it more as a favor.

So, when my customer stepped into our kitchen, he asked if I had gotten his bill figured out.

“Yep, I dropped it in the mail yesterday. 

I told him I would be glad to look it up, because I had a copy of the invoice in my brief case.


I could instantly see a spark of fire in his eyes…

“What?  I thought you only had 12 hours total that day?”

(I always assume when we are working by the hour, someone may be keeping track of our hours….Just to be safe, I tend to round down, so there is not the slightest chance of over charging)

(12 times $35 (which is my current hourly rate)   = $420.00, so  I’m guessing he thought his bill would be more in the $400 range.

” How much are you paying your guys?

That’s when things started to go south…

I got out my time log…There were 3 additional hours from a couple of days previous he’d forgotten about, plus I’d not even billed him for 20 minutes the day before when I’d stopped to install some additional screws.

The implication hanging in the air was I had over charged him.

That did not sit well with me and I let him know it.

I have people who trust me with literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of work, with whom I never have a problem getting paid, and once in a while I encounter someone like this.

I realize most of you reading this have never met me, and don’t know the real me on a day-to-day basis.

It takes a lot to get me agitated.

A lot.

“Be angry but do not sin…and don’t let the day end without dealing with the situation…”

I didn’t say anything I need to apologize for, but the encounter did  leave me agitated.

Growing up, I was not an assertive person.

I do not like conflict, but neither will I avoid it if I feel it is in order.

Parenting 4 teens into adulthood and running my own small business has enabled some personal growth in the assertive department.

For that I am thankful.

Suppressed anger can lead to all sorts of negative things….

Depression, migraine headaches, certain types of cancer…

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one.  DM



16 thoughts on “Getting Paid

  1. My post today. What I really wish I had the balls to do is call this guy up and tell him how my patients are taking what he is saying. Maybe he is just doing a bad job at being funny and he just doesn’t realize it? Or maybe he really is a prick and he needs to know that I know. I wrote several emails but felt too emotional about it (hands shaking and everything) so I just deleted them. Gah! I hate that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My hands were shaking too when I dug out my job log, shoved it under his nose as we looked at our days/ hours logged in etc. In my case, this was not the first (but it will be the last) time I have worked for him. I was relating the whole exchange again to one of my kids this morning, who reminded me I’d probably never billed him for the time I had saved him from choking) I’d gotten a frantic phone call from his wife and ran over and given him the heimlich maneuver…. so really, he owes me his life 🙂 not just a few hundred dollars.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first thing that crossed my mind is that his question about what you pay your workers is entirely out of line. If you bill an hour at $35 but only pay a worker $20, that’s your business, not his.

    Other than that, I was wondering if you itemize your invoices. I always do, just because it tends to educate as well as inform. If a customer (especially a new one) is given what they consider a high bid, it always makes more sense to them once the invoice arrives, showing X number of hours for this and X number for that, with good detail.

    Doing a job as a favor, but then billing for it, is something I never do, either. If I’m doing a job for someone, I bid it and get paid. If I want to do a favor for someone, like repairing damage after a weekend sail, I just do it, and don’t bill them. It’s a lot cleaner that way, and builds good will along the way.

    And if the “favor” part of the deal is trying to sandwich something into my established schedule, I stopped doing that about ten years ago. It generally leads to trouble, at least in my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with everything you said. Going into it, he knew we were working by the hour for $35 an hour. When I said I was doing it as a favor, I had the time, the favor was because I’ve worked for him before and he has always been a little anal. I swore the last time I wouldn’t work for him again. it is not worth the stress. the crazy thing is, he was there the whole time we were working, hovering around, he had simply forgotten the other partial day’s work when he did his math. when I reminded him, he said, “Oh, that’s right” then he was a little flustered realized his mistake, and mumbled something else. Never again.


  3. Some people try to take advantage, so I hope you got full payment.
    My sister tried to rip me off when her husband was in business and she was doing his books. I needed to get my car through the MOT and he told me he would see to it and not charge me any more than the £50 I could afford.
    She presented me with a bill for £48 plus £28 for the MOT. It is the only time I’d known my brother in law stand up to her as he insisted that the MOT fee was included in the £48 and he had only charged me for parts. She has never forgiven me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve re-read this many times, but have not commented, because there are already many fine comments and observations. My father (bless him) was (is) the type of nice guy who’d give the shirt off his back to anyone he thought needed it more. Unfortunately, that meant that less honorable folks could (and did) take advantage of him. Growing up, as I observed this, and as this affected my family, I realised that I had to learn to become assertive, and to protect myself & my family first and foremost. It’s challenging because here in Japan (and in other places too, I’m sure) women are still frowned upon for being ‘direct’ or assertive. But, I try to not let that affect me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did not enter adulthood w/ the knack to be assertive. Realized that was an attribute I needed to change, so one day when I was skimming through some classes being offered by one of our community college, a weekend workshop on assertiveness communication caught my eye. It was the best $45 I have ever spent. It has paid for itself 20 fold over just the first year alone. I learned there is a difference between being assertive (which is good and healthy) and being aggressive (which is not) There was an assertiveness Bill of rights I learned of the rights I have (and I exercise it all the time) is I have the right to change my mind…you get the idea. anyway, to this day, I do not like conflict, but am a lot more comfortable speaking up than I was 30 years ago. thanks for your thoughtful comment! DM

      Liked by 1 person

      • What a great course! I agree, there is a difference between assertive and aggressive and how many people get them confused. Likewise (slight change of topic), I feel there is a difference between being ‘child-like’ and ‘child-ish.’ I try to keep the former 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I got a reputation some might find different.
    Fixing all manner of white goods, electronics, and computers, I got a sort of a rep as “if all else fails call Paul”. I loved the big computer repair shops (and still do). They did no end of good for my little business by failing miserably and charging lots for fixing nothing.
    I felt quite flattered by that and always did my best for those “in tears” so to speak.

    Yet the only bills that were argued were those who had more money then sin. Thus is you lived in an expensive part of town I’d initially refuse your work. Jeez, did that stir up a hornets nest with some at first, then finding out why (see later) they soon paid a retainer and yep, I’d arrive.

    As for the rest, only a couple of people tried the no paying bit.
    So on my answer phone I put the message.
    “leave a number and I’ll call you back BUT if you are xyz, your check bounced again and everyone who calls me will know that.”
    Funny that, within a week an envelope with cash laid on the door mat.
    Even funnier was the revised TAM message.
    “leave a number and I’ll call you back BUT if you are xyz, thank you for settling your bill 2 weeks late and everyone who calls me will know that too.”

    Funny that, people who had called and employed me found that REALLY amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

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