Ok, just let me get this straight. I don’t work for fun. I work because I need to, just like 98% of the population. What makes things harder on me, is that my time is mostly divided up between my several jobs that I tend to have, since none of them not even nearly covers my expenses, and none of them nearly gets me anywhere to some kind of financial security. But, hey, what’s it to me anyway. I am a translator, a free spirit, someone who is blessed to live the way they want to anyway. Right? No, wrong. Big time wrong.

It’s funny to see that my last entry on this blog was about the World Cup being used to cover up for a lot of what I would summarize under the Big Rio de Caca or Spain’s internal crisis. The truth is, now some 45 days on in history. I’ve had my own private Rio de Caca here and then. Why? Let me explain.

As I said, I work as a translator. What I do is that I try to get some jobs here and there to somehow get to the end of the month. That’s basically what I do. Things are not going especially well, not with some people not understanding that a real translation is something else than doing “copy/paste” with google translate. Plus, the market is full with so-called translators who don’t do this profession any favor by calling themselves translators. Anyway, that being said, I was ecstatic when I received an email informing me about an urgent job to translate from Castellano to English. I asked if this was a one-off, but no. It was meant to be a regular thing. Since I was in the last throes of my other almost regular job, I tried to postpone it, but no, of course, it was just now and then. So I agreed to make an appointment. The appointment went well, I got the job, and I was told to be working from now on from the own privacy of my home, a thing I very much appreciated, since the pay was just as much as to cover the actual time spent on the translation (as foreseen by my employer).

Ok, since I was being quite in the middle of a very hectic week, I agreed that they would prepare me things to sign, and since I had their word and a handshake, I thought everything was fine. At least, that was not some kind of back alley deal. That is a newspaper. This is group of different media companies (TV, newspaper, and what not) which have been here for years and years. So I thought, it would not be necessary to show any mistrust against them. A handshake used to fine in this case. So I thought.

In the very first couple of days, things went very chaotic, if not totally unprofessionally. I got sent texts of an amount where I needed to extract about an article of 20% the size and sometimes the titles were this large I was only allowed four to max. five words in the title etc. Plus the texts were sent very late, and many other things that were not really helpful in terms of me having a normal and useful working environment, because my only contact with the company were the emails that were sent to me.

I tried to get back in touch with the man who hired me. I asked him for a second interview even though I had a good mind of simply telling him that this way, the work is not really workable. Not in one or in one and a half hours, which was the base for the amount he was willing to pay. I was actually willing to quit after four or five days, it wasn’t even a week. So I sat him down and talked him through my pains. He listened very carefully and then told me he would change the system, and he could understand my concerns, etc. etc. In the end, he even lowered the amount of articles from 8 to five articles per day, which was absolutely necessary since they always arrived extremely late and it turned out that I had to not only translate them, but also revise them, sometimes rewrite them to make them fit into the small space they were given on one page. I asked for the texts to be sent earlier in the day so I would not wait around so much and could also make use of the afternoon or evening.

A couple of times, the arrangement worked, but mostly, it was simply very chaotic.
At the very beginning of our cooperation, I informed my boss of a course I would be doing in Barcelona but he would not have to worry, I would still be translating that week. I really wanted this job so much. I wanted to move mountains in order to achieve something. He had talked about giving me a proper job in the editors’ team.

Ok, fast forward 40 days. I started on June 15th. I was supposed to get my first cash on July 15th. However, since that was exactly during the week I was in Barcelona, I thought, no big deal, I will be paid the week after. Right? Wrong…

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Last week I showed up at the office, throwing in an office day to say hello and ask about the payment, which I thought at the time, was no problem at all. I mean, they had been printing all my articles and they had thanked me for sending them the articles, so I thought, good. I need to pay my invoices just like anyone else, and so I asked when I could have my money. I was referred to someone in the administration and this someone asked me what type of agreement I had with the paper. I said 30€, went back to my desk, continued translating, was called in after I’d finished and was told that I would need to make myself self-employed, a thing which is absolutely impossible on 900€ (supposing the 900€ = deducted from 30 days per 30€ payable). The thing was we had spoken net amounts, and I told them, I could work on a normal parttime schedule, with the three hours every day and so forth. But then, I was told that the 900€ would be a brut amount leaving me with much less. When this happened, I asked them to send me a comparative study so that I could make up my mind which way to choose. Although I surely wasn’t happy about any of this. 30€ just about covers me, but 30€ minus 25% or even 30% that simply wouldn’t do it.

However, they never send me the comparative study. In the end, I was notified, after I had again send them an email and still kept on working, that the situation had changed. All of a sudden, the word was that I would be reimbursed with 500€ flat, as it had been agreed upon in the very first meeting, before I had even finished three days at work, and when there was no talk about working seven days a week… But no, 500€ instead of 900€ and that was it. No questions asked. I just couldn’t believe it.

I made a short calculation, saw that this amount would simply not cut it for all the hours I lost each and every day. So, I told them, again, in the nicest way possible, that there has got to be a mistake. But right now, I don’t think that any of my doubts, are being heard. I haven’t heard back from them, even though I yesterday (Sunday) sent out a reminder to ask for my due pay for working 40 days non-stop. This company owes me 1200€. And they don’t care that I have worked for them like a clockwork. Never failed them once.

It is now 45 days after my first day at work. I tore the ripcord, stopped writing for them, last Friday (after being informed that my monthly pay would be 500€! For 30 days, for 3 hours, and 5 articles daily). At first I could simply not believe it that a newspaper will act this way. Basically, they are not willing to pay the amount we had an agreement for. This was 30 € / day. I averaged in between two to three hours work, but there were days when I needed four to five hours since I waited for the articles to be sent or because the big article was still missing or they would have problems with the headlines or whatever. So let’s speak of an average of three hours (which under normal circumstances, could have been two hours, but that’s about as low as it gets in terms of time). They claim now that we had a different agreement, which rounds of at 15.60€ / day which is truly quite unbelievable.

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I had a similar case happen to me in spring. When I translated a comic or let’s say I proof-read it and didn’t get paid. I had given them a lousy and ridiculously low price. But even so. It’s still money, and it’s still time I invested into someone else’s work and where I didn’t see any benefits.

But this is so much larger in terms of scale. I am so sick and tired of being ripped off. If I had known this, I would have stopped working for them much earlier. But as things are, I need to stick around, fix things somehow, it just breaks my heart cos my kids ask me to go to the beach, summer time, to relax and enjoy the time, but I can’t. I need to say no, since I am here, in my home office, looking for a new job, a way to get back on top of things. Being ripped off for one and a half month of good work is quite something.

One thing for sure, I am sad and angry. I feel treated like I am some kind of idiot. I feel ridiculed.

Now I can remember what my old primary school used to say “You’re my first class here. Act like you know that you are going to pave the way for many many new primary classes to come. If you blow it, it’ll be on your head.” That was always something that impressed me lots. We were an exemplary class.

I just hope that this company will make the same bad experience one day. And I also hope that then they will realise the true extension of their antisocial and irresponsible behaviour. They are paving the way to being “antisocial” being accepted as a “business model”.

I’m not finished with them.

– To be continued –

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