Thursday, February 10, 2005

Mugg & Bean, Killarney

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Service: * * * 1/2
Food: * * *
Ambience: * * *
Babe Count: * * * 1/2

My lawyer has decided to try the blueberry flapjacks with cream. I'm having a roasted chicken sandwich.

Martin used to be a public prosecutor, back in the days when he was doing good for all humankind. One of the straws that broke that particular do-good back was when he had to go up against a dude from some rural community somewhere who was caught by three of his neighbours with his dick actually inside his dog.

"I don't like bestiality," he says to me.

We've been chatting via phone and email since the day my ex-boss decided to shaft me for the balance of my directing fee. He's been giving me advice on what I can and can't say on the site.

He's looking at my employment contract right now. He laughs, his mouth twisting into a piranha-like gape. I think he's caught the scent of blood here.

"Roy, I'm going to draft a contract for you to keep on your computer. Next time an employer hands you a contract, hand it back, and use the one I'm going to do for you. This one is pathetic. Everything in it is vague."

"Yeah," I say. "But doesn't that suit them?"

"Actually, no," he says. He's working for a bunch of mavens who specialise in labour and tax law. "See," he says, "when things are as vague as this, other factors come into play." I'm not going into these, since I'm not tipping my ex-boss into just how I'm going to go about dealing with this. She reads my site.

"But Martin," I say, "what on EARTH is going through this woman's head? What does she think she's going to ACHIEVE by shafting me?"

He shrugs. "I come across this every day, Roy. Chances are, she thinks that if she refuses to pay you, you won't want to waste the time and energy on fighting it, and that you'll just disappear. She gets your work for free, in essence."

'Yeah," I say, "but doesn't she KNOW that there are consequences? This is the tiniest industry on the planet. And it RUNS on freelancers. Doesn't she understand that you can't shaft freelancers, and that we all know each other, and we all have friends who have friends? Man. This just doesn't make sense."

"Maybe she's just taking a chance," he says.

"Unless she GENUINELY believes that I've somehow shafted her?" I say.

"Roy, did you do the work?"

We've been over this at least six times. I've given him the exact chronology. I've told him what I did and didn't do. I've told him why I did what I did. And I've told him what she did to prevent me doing what I didn't do. And I've told him about the agreement we reached in a room full of people in December, in which I agreed to go back to the company for three days in January to complete one story. She agreed. I came in for those three days and completed three stories. And then she reneged on her payment schedule.

"I did the work," I say.

"So then it doesn't matter if SHE thinks YOU shafted her." He nibbles on his flapjack. "What matters is how a reasonable person would understand this complex situation."

It's my turn to shrug. "I have absolutely nothing to lose," I say. "And I really think that it's about time this sort of thing stops happening."

"I'll send her a lawyer's letter of demand tomorrow," he says.

And then we talk about writing. He's a novelist. I'm a novelist. He's translating a short story of mine into Afrikaans.

"What kind of a dog was it?" I ask.

His hands come up in an involuntary gesture to ward off the question. "I don't want to talk about that!" he says.

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