There are so many perils to being an independent contractor that it is hard to know where to begin. In the past six weeks since I last posted here, I have suffered a massive ear infection, moved, and dealt with the idiocy of modern utilities that seem to think the words “Internet” and “21st Century” do not necessarily need to go together. Of this latter point, I’ll write in a moment. As for the former two, well, when I’m sick and cannot work, I don’t get paid. I can simplify: When I don’t work, I don’t get paid.
Wages for a freelance writer (and more and more lately I am doing bookkeeping work to feed my family, but also as an independent contractor) are despicable. I am fortunate to make upwards of $15/hour or a penny per word. While that sounds like almost nothing, I assure you it is above the industry standard. I often will get job offers that pay $1.50 for a 450 word article, for example (i.e. 1/3 cent per word). Even at the high end (I’ve received as much as—hold on to your hats, you won’t believe it!!—TWO cents per word on some jobs) of the payment spectrum, after I pay my taxes (yes, I pay taxes on my income, including all my own social security), I’m lucky to take home $500 per week. Those are the weeks when I work upwards of 50 hours, which—of course—I cannot do when I’m sick or packing up (or unpacking) my house.
Which brings me to my new apartment. And by new, I mean NEW. As in new construction. It was barely built on time; I was literally sweating up until 36 hours prior to my scheduled move. However, I did manage to get in on time and with all my belongings (this includes a piano, which—outside my children and the cats on a good day—is the one item in my home I truly care about… okay, and the books; the movers noted we had a LOT of books). That said, somebody dropped a ball somewhere, because we weren’t on the grid for Time Warner Cable. While I do not miss my actual cable, I cannot work without the Internet (did I mention that when I don’t work I don’t get paid?). Losing money for being sick is one of those things that happens now and again. Losing money because I took time off to move happens even less often (and hopefully won’t happen again for at least three years). Losing money because the landlord/utility company cannot figure out that there is a building on this street—incidentally, wedged between two buildings and across from a third that DO have cable/Internet access—is not a situation I suffer with grace and silence.
Years of doing research have pointed me to a solution. I had meticulously taken down the names of the cable company so-called customer service reps and the dates/times I had called in. I sent this information to the Public Service Commission. Within 24 hours, the regulatory department at Time Warner called me. They’re coming out on Monday to connect the building to the grid. After that, I should be able to get my modem reconnected (I kept my equipment and account on the advice of the very first TWC rep I called for the change of service; for the privilege of not having cable/Internet, I’m paying $25, after I instituted a vacation hold so that I’m not paying $125!).
Then, it will be back to work.