Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Whoa Nellie!

Yeah, it's been a while since I've posted. Life, I tell ya!

Anyway, here's my astonishment of the day:

I've been doing a huge amount of transcription, on a purely volunteer basis, for someone who lectures and conducts workshops in her field (a branch of bodywork). She's quite well-known in those circles, and months ago I joined her online group, just to listen in on what other practitioners, far more advanced than I, were discussing about treatment options.

So one day she posted a request for someone to do transcription of the audiofiles she records during her workshops, and I put my hand up. I thought it was a great way to get more familiar with the material, and a nice change of pace from the things I do day to day. This board has a lot of people on it, an quite a few people who apparently originate from another planet as far as I can tell. Some bizarre stuff gets bandied about. But I put my hand up, and she just sent me a file, no questions asked, no further requests made.

I've done a lot of files in the intervening time. I mean, a lot a lot. Maybe a couple hundred hours? A lot. And I've enjoyed it, no complaints.

But today, rather out of the blue, she said she's never had anyone do this much transcription for her, and she'd like a contract from me, some way of "ensuring" that I won't try to publish her material or take credit for it.

And my jaw dropped.

No reciprocating offer, no free classes or treatments or anything like that. She wants me to sign my name swearing that I'll behave ethically towards her as a volunteer. After all this time and typing.

I'm trying to keep my temper. We all have issues, and I can understand that with all the research and time she's put into preparing this stuff, that she wants to protect it. That's reasonable. And I offered her references of people who've known and worked with me on various projects over the past 15 years. But she wants a contract instead.

I don't really know what to think of this request. Looking for enlightenment - please?


Deb said...

Do you mean, after all you've done for her, no offer of compensation? Just legal BS? I don't know what to say! I think you've spent enough time doing her stuff.

e4 said...

Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable signing a contract for volunteer work. Seems like a contract could create a bigger legal risk for you. Probably not a big one, but still, if you're not being compensated...

I mean, if you steal her stuff, she can already sue you right? So what's the contract accomplish, besides maybe increasing your liability.

Apparently after all this time, she trusts you less than when you started.

If she wants to get free labor, then she's got to either trust people or accept the small risks involved.

If she wants to treat it like a business relationship, then make it into a business relationship, complete with money changing hands.

I'd just tell her your honest reaction straight away, and let her either repair the damage or move on.

CG said...

you know something very very important about that person now, and likely about that whole board, and maybe that whole branch of work. Sorry but disillusionment is a good thing.

Madcap said...

Deb - I think you're right. I appreciate the feedback, b/c a lot of times when things take me off-guard I really second-guess my initial reaction.

e4 - Thank you for setting it out so clearly point by point. Yes. I know she's got a history of being taken advantage of, but now I'm being penalized because I'm NOT taking advantage of her! And feeling rather taken-advantage-of myself... human relationships get so complex...

CG - I'm sad about this. My capacity to trust has taken a severe beating over the past couple years, and I was really hoping to find some little niche of the world where I could let my guard down a little more.

I sent her a reply this morning, very calm and direct, naming what she's done. If she comes back with an apology and some offer of restitution, it'll go a long way to healing the rift.

lindsaylobe said...

Hi madcap

I noticed you has begun blogging again and have been meaning to say hello.

From my perspective I think trust is an important element in life in general. Sure you can trust someone and it will be misplaced and they let you down but that is life and you move on. I think the most valuable asset you can build up in your life is to have a circle of friends or family you can trust and rely upon in genuine times of need. So, with hesitation, I would refuse to sign the so called contract and cease the transcription work.

Best wishes

Madcap said...

Hi Lindsay,

Nice to see you again, and thanks for the input. Trust is difficult, and especially when your livelihood is at stake, I can see wanting some assurance. But I need some assurance too, and I'm not up for putting myself in harm's way with a legal contract.

I think things will smooth out. She sent an apology, comes from a different world and doesn't really understand why I reacted like I did, but seems willing to hear me. I'm glad. I don't need another burned bridge in my life.