Becky Says...

August 2, 2001

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Have you ever had a situation where you weren't quite sure if someone was trying to get you to do your job for free? I had that happen today, and I've spent some time pondering the situation.

The setup is that someone who I am certain knows I get paid to proofread has written a document that I expressed polite interest in reading. I do not know the person very well. Today I got a note from the person, thanking me for my interest, and saying I should point out any errors.

Now, that could be taken two ways. The first, that this person is boorish enough to think it's okay to ask me to donate my time and skills. The second, that this person makes the same sort of statement to all who are known readers, in the spirit of, "If you see an error, it won't hurt my feelings if you point it out."

If I knew the person better, I would perhaps know which way the statement was intended. But since I don't, I have decided to let it slide unless I get asked specifically for an error report. In that case, I will thank the person for wanting to hire me, and say that since we have met, it will be perfectly fine to pay me by personal check.

And if the intent was to get a freebie, I can act all apologetic for misunderstanding, and come up with some reason that I don't have time to go back through the document with proofing pen in hand. I can add that the first time through I was reading for content.

Yes, I do freebies occasionally, but those people for whom I am willing and happy to do them know without any doubt who they are.

And so do I.

Text © copyright 2000-2001 Becky