Earlier today I read an article in the Guardian, one of those 'help' type columns - someone explained that they lived in London and after paying all their bills - had only £40pcm left. The comments section that followed was just a constant stream of incredulous snickering and abuse - peppered with the occasional patronising 'suggestion' - my favourite being - 'try and squeeze 4 or 5 people into a 2 bedroom flat - 6 if there are 3 couples'. I found the snickering the most unpalatable - people who are clearly comfortable themselves and just happy to mock and patronise. The same kind of people who laugh at beggars or kick rough sleepers in the head. I've said before that I suspect people behave like that partly out of the fear that they may end up like that themselves, we are all very, very close to the edge - closer than we all think (some - closer than others). There is a rough sleeper buy my office who will tell anyone he went from owning a business to being on the street in 3 months.
Yesterday I had a conversation with someone who meant no harm - but managed to be incredibly patronising without realising. I go to a lot of trouble to avoid anyone who starts any sentence with 'what you should do is' - because generally they have no idea what they are talking about. I read another article earlier today that was designed to 'show' self employed people how to cope with illness "if you have a cold - why not just Skype" and other nonsense, and last week I had a long and quite painful conversation with someone I like very much, who is actually quite bright - but insisted on giving me detailed advice on how to be a freelancer, despite me having 25 years experience - and them non. They were totally oblivious to the fact that they have a very well paid job, with benefits (a car etc) - sick pay and expenses - an assistant that sorts everything for them - they have certainly never had to buy a train ticket themselves - and their money hits the bank every month on the same day - tax and national insurance already taken care of. They can also take time off sick, which they frequently do. They were trying to lecture me on how to deal with bad payers - I've been dealing with them all my life - I have some experience and they have none - but I decide to just let them talk. Nobody really understands that anything under 200 never gets paid unless you put at least 200 worth of work into chasing it - and then probably still never see the money. It seems to be an unspoken understanding that nobody pays small bills - but they mount up. When you have a month when all there is are small invoices to get through to next month - it's quite a big deal. But they just don't get it. Someone said to me today I should factor into my fees the possibility of being taken ill etc - but that's nieve and totally pointless, they have no idea what they are talking about. If you pursue someone for money - they resent you - even good clients get defensive, despite the fact you charged them a fraction of what you should have and have already waited 3 months to get paid - including all the expenses you have to lay out. The fact is - I'm actually incredibly good with money - I always have been - there just isn't enough - and other people get in the way. When I discussed the possibility that I may just throw the towel in with someone last week - I could feel them recoiling from me and writing me off - despite my business probably being in better state than theirs - and THEY owe me money too.
Someone I know professionally was very rude to me last week - this is someone who just paid cash for a house (parents gave him the money) and who's wife is also financially comfortable - both of their parents are alive and regularly help them out - and neither of them have anything like the pressures placed on me, but they still feel they can look down their nose at me. I get that a lot.
I'm going to be working tomorrow - in an office that I rent, using a computer I paid for - writing a proposal for a job that I may not get - it will take me all day to prepare, I don't get anything for doing that - I have to do it all the time, and it's very, very unusual for me to get a response from these things - professional courtesy is very thin on the ground right now. The prospect of giving up, selling everything and buying a £30k house 20 miles outside Cardiff in nowhereland, and just locking the door behind me, is increasingly attractive