Freelancing – A Labor Day Story


It all started quite innocently. I brought my then eight month pregnant Love interest to a Crosby, Stills & Nash concert I would be reviewing. Surprisingly it’s the best concert I’ve been to this year, but I have negative connotations for the night because as I waited with the rest of the press for tickets, a woman handed me her business card. She worked for a magazine called South Florida Opulence and said the editor, Robin Jay, was always looking for writers.

It was the kind of publication I loathe, one of those free glossy magazines that celebrate materialism and try to convince readers that the only way to be happy is to buy more stuff. But I figured I’d soon have an extra mouth to feed and they promised an attractive pay rate, so I figured I’d use a pen name and collect some sleazy checks for diaper money.

The editor reached out to me with two assignments in one of the longest e-mails I ever had the misfortune of reading. The first was to write about the Nu Life Institute who were trying to peddle testosterone as a cure to all ailments. The second was even stranger. The editor wanted me to glamorize her trips to Minnesota to get cosmetic dental work and how she was starting a new trend of dental oriented vacations. I put my head down and interviewed the appropriate parties, did my research and wrote and turned in before my deadline what I will stand by as professional, well written articles.

The editor responded with an e-mail that she assigned the stories to someone else for some nebulous reason and wished me good luck in life. I responded that I had not received these supposed e-mails, nor had the people I interviewed mentioned being interviewed by anyone else from the magazine and I expected her to pay me at the rate which she promised for the work I completed in good faith.

As a writer I’m used to  shabby treatment. From time to time  when you deliver the goods, they still don’t deliver the payment. I’m sure there are plumbers and doctors and farmhands who suffer the same broken promises, but no other job title (and I’ve held a lot of them) gets shafted as much as the writer. Whatever the reason for this is I was not surprised when she came back that she would nickel and dime me with a kill fee of ten percent of what she promised.

I kept the terms of my e-mail professional and figured I deserved this. My greed got in the way of my ethics. I did the devil’s work of trying to sell people things they didn’t need, so having my time wasted was a suitable punishment. A couple months passed and I didn’t get my check. So I e-mailed the editor again. She informed me I didn’t turn in the proper tax forms. I did as she asked, more months passed and still no check. I tried to keep the high road  always ending my correspondences with “best” followed by my name.

I know the best revenge is living well, but four months later and after three e-mails asking her to pay me met with silence, I decided to bite back.

I sent her the below letter to the editor which I am reprinting below for the petty, vengeful reason that when someone Googles her name they might read this bitter post.

Robin Jay,
Keep the money you owe me and maybe you can buy yourself a little integrity. With the way you treat talent I can see why your magazine South Florida Pennypinching… I mean South Florida Your Check Is In The Mail… I mean South Florida Opulence is the preferred publication for fishmongers to wrap their product in. Keep fighting the good fight in continuing to supply South Florida with stories about your cosmetic procedures  and maybe even in the future about your bowel movements.
David Rolland

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