Painful lessons

11/17/2011

I did some work for a guy last year who turned out to be a fraud.

The day he was supposed to mail me a check for $17,000.27, he disappeared. An open records request by a very helpful paralegal resulted in a shocker: Mr. Moneybags was incarcerated for his inability to fulfill some personal financial obligations.

We had one more discussion when he emerged from jail, wherein he reported having been in the hospital (not knowing that I knew the truth), hoping things would return to normal.

They did not.

Inexperienced freelancers often get burned like I did because they don’t have the proper contract(s) in place, because they don’t get things in writing, and because they don’t realize that many clients seek to extract the maximum amount of work for as little money as possible (and sometimes less than that).

This particular situation stung because 1) I was going to quit my job with the money I had earned and 2) I had several friends doing work for this guy, and immediately realized that none of us would be getting paid. Oof.

Instead of doing cartwheels in traffic following the bad news, however, I reframed the issue and emerged smarter and more determined than ever.

It was an invaluable lesson for me (although one I could have done without), and embarrassing disasters like that are just as important to my story as the public victories.