October 07, 2003

(Note: This rant is not specifically aimed at any of my current or recent clients, just the shitty state of things in general. And a big Fuck You to you, Arnold.)

So, I think I've identified a serious problem with the way things are currently working around here. A lot of the people who control the money are scheming, soulless bastards, and I can't, in good conscience, have any of that. One of my worst qualities - from a certain viewpoint - is that I have certain strong opinions about the way things work, and I'm really bad at being diplomatic about expressing those opinions. Honesty, apparently, is not the best policy, at least, if you're trying to get paid. Oh, right, and don't dare have a sense of humor about yourself, or anything you do. Because those guys with the fat wallets, they don't want to hear a single critical word about themselves, and if you even hint at the bald facts of what they're doing, even if you pass it off as a joke, they will turn on you and rip you apart in the blink of an eye. So, it looks like the only way to make a decent living is to get really good at lying to people, until you've done it so much that you convince yourself that you're not really working for unscrupulous scumbags, and you've scraped yourself hollow of all self-respect and personality, and become a perfect little ass-kissing corporate toadie. And hey, if you suck up well enough, maybe you'll make it through one more round of layoffs with only a small pay cut.

Okay, so that's kind of harsh. I'm sure that people working in and for these kinds of companies are just regular, and possibly good, people, just trying to make a buck and keep their shit together in this crappy economy. But that sort of thing just doesn't work out so good for me. If I don't have a lot of respect for the things you do to keep yourself in business, I find that I have a hard time concealing my contempt, one way or the other. This tends to piss off or freak out people who can't handle the truth - or, at least, my version of it. Which makes it difficult for me to work with them, and vice versa. (Of course, this also has the bonus side effect that if I'm being friendly and not taking the piss out of you, you know that chances are good that I don't think you're a jerk. Funny how that whole honesty thing works out, huh?)

I know that there are good people working out there, and running businesses. (I know, because I'm working with one of them right now.) But, and I know this will come as a great shock to everyone, good people don't always pay so well. It has been my experience that it's generally the scumbags and cutthroats that make, and hand out, the big bucks. Which sucks, because I tend not to get along with those guys for very long. Once in a while I'll get a gig that I know I'll hate, but I need the money, and I'll take it anyway, feel dirty, say the wrong thing to the wrong person, and get shit-listed. Which sucks all around, especially if there are actually good people in there who get caught in the middle of the atmosphere of fear and panic.

So, hey. How about I not do that any more? Can I find enough work that I'm not ashamed of doing, that will bring in enough to cover the mortgage and DSL? I know the jobs are out there - some of the gigs that are potentially coming up seem to be decent folks, doing interesting and not-evil work. But, again, not so much with the steady flow of non-evil dollars. It's been a rough year for me, jobwise. I've had plenty of time to slouch around and indulge in my own slothful and occasionally personally interesting pursuits, which has been great, but the money I've saved up over the Good Years is just about out. Fortunately, Bernie has a steady contract that pays in California dollars, so we're not totally screwed yet. That might end come January, though, and the combination of dry leads and my pesky ethics are making things look pretty unpromising on my side of things. If I tighten the belt a little bit, I could probably stick out another six or seven months with what I've got here - one of the advantages of moving to a reasonably-priced part of the country - but after that, it's back to knocking over liquor stores.

So, what to do? Given the above, I see two clear options. One, start busting ass and digging around for more clean jobs. I'm done with dirty work - if I get a bad feeling about a job, I'm not taking it. If I know that it's likely that I'll let some "unprofessional" behavior slip through because I don't respect the person I'm working for, I'm probably better off not working with them in the first place. This strategy is going to make me feel a bit better about myself and what I'm doing, but it's not likely to straighten the money thing out so much, and I'm pretty much stuck doing that forever. If my eyesight or wrists or brain goes, I'm screwed, with no health insurance or retirement plan.

The other option carries a lot more risk, but has the potential to suck a lot less. It also involves a lot more paperwork, a lot more ass-busting, a lot more investment up front, and a great opportunity to look like a jackass if it all goes terribly wrong. But hey, I take the opportunity look like a jackass every damn day, so I may as well go for it. My badass accountant recommended a badass lawyer to help me get stuff in order, and I've got a pile of documentation and a handful of demo code to start with. Now I just need some follow-through on the business side, a couple months of development time, and a lot of luck. Oh, yeah, and a couple of small jobs that don't take up a lot of my time, and pay enough to feed me while all this is happening, maybe? Anyway, I'll give it until January. If nothing happens by then, feel free to berate me soundly about being a slapass.

Off we go.

(October 07, 2003 09:35 PM)

Not sure what your market is like in Austin, but...


I believe we've had discussions along these lines before. I know I've given thought to pretty much everything you've brought up here. I am soo happy not to be a temp worker in this economy. Right livelyhood is a tricky balancing act. Was talking to my friend Kirsten about jobs last night, and, well, lets just say it can be a depressing topic.

Posted by: brian on October 8, 2003 07:57 AM

There is a reason that they started Despair; I have a feeling that you would have strangled the men who inspired its founders, had you ever gotten involved with them.

Posted by: Cam on October 10, 2003 07:00 PM
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