(Woot! It's Rant Thursday! Here you go, dearies:) I got an e-mail a few weeks ago that went (and I'm paraphrasing slightly here) something like this:
Remember me? I'm that guy who hired you to write his website, oh, eight or 10 years ago. You know, the guy who supplied you with a whole bunch of plagiarized content without telling you that I had simply taken it from other websites and intended to pass it off as my own, with some light editing and organizational work from you? Ring a bell? And when you finally cottoned on to the fact that I had no integrity hadn't actually written the materials, and explained why you couldn't work with them, I got really mad at you and stiffed you on your fee?
I seem to recall that I called you "unprofessional."
Sooooo, what's your availability like? I need someone to review and create some text for a new website. If you're still doing this kind of work, please forward your contact information.
Here's what I wrote back (no paraphrasing at all):
I'm not the right writer for the job.
(I've been hesitating to write this post, because of well, the whole "unprofessional" thing I reference in the title. At least some of my clients read these pages, although I have very little idea how often. And so talking about other clients, no matter how long-ago or fleeting or abusive, seems somehow unprofessional. But really, if you are my client, now, and you are reading this, rest assured that at this stage of the game, you are my client because I ENJOY WORKING WITH YOU. You are pleasant, you have integrity, you are committed to your cause, you pay me, and you appreciate the work I do. And I appreciate you for it.)
I debated writing something more, shall we say, creative, more descriptive, in response to That Guy. In the end, though, I went for restrained. And man, it's so hard not to be a good girl, not to soften the blow by writing things like, "Unfortunately… " or "I'm sorry, but…" or "I don't think I'm…" Or any number of polite, apologetic, wimpy phrases. Because it's not unfortunate that I will not take on this job, nor am I sorry about it. And I don't "think" that I won't let myself be abused and taken advantage of by unrepentant asshats: I know I won't. Full stop.
And man, even the much more restrained version felt so good. If this is what my 40s are going to be like, bring it.