Oh no, it’s raaainnning again…

Supertramp anyone? It must have been subliminally hearing the rain on the roof all night long that put that song in my head this morning (and so, I pass it along to you). It sure has been a rainy spring, and now the too-early heat has drizzled away into a string of chilly gray days. Another drippy weekend ahead.

Work is also raaainnning again…got a challenging (hopefully interesting) new project today (a rush for next weekend, as I’ll only be able to start on Friday and it’s due the following Monday), on top of another new project to do next week, and the promise of several more projects hanging over my head. Why hanging? Because I’ve already been paid for them!

As their company approaches the end of its fiscal year, my clients (several different ones at the same company) need to spend the money left in their budgets or risk not being allocated the same amount next year. So every year-end typically brings a flurry of projects as well as requests for me to prebill for work to be completed next fiscal year. Dollars so carefully watched and controlled all year are suddenly dangled enticingly before the outstretched fingers of financial-security-deprived contractors like me.

It’s the proverbial bird in the hand, but feels uncomfortably like the carrot before the stick. Having taken their prebill cash, I’m now in debt — I OWE this work, I HAVE to do it, my CREDIT SCORE (i.e., reputation) is at stake, my clients are in control. 

Oh wait, I have the money, so maybe I have some power too. OK, I get that. But I don’t even know what the work will be — what if I don’t WANT to do it? Too bad, sister.

Mike thinks I’m nuts and told me in no uncertain terms to quit whining about it to him, so I whine online instead. 

I know I’m not the only one in this boat — how do my fellow free agents feel about this practice? Does it delight you or scare you? If you tell me it’s a nice problem to have, I will fully agree. But that won’t stop my anxiety. Or the rain, apparently. As I wrote this, I got another request from different clients at the same company to do another new project. And could I get back with an estimate by Monday morning?

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.
                                            ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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