The Client and the Contractor

Random:  The Client and the Contractor.

So this morning I was rudely woken by an unknown number at 8.48. I ignored it. MBNA have taught me to ignore all Unknown numbers. They’re getting sneakier damn it.

But no the voicemail revealed that it was The Client . In a former life (a few months ago) I ran a consultancy and this client was the last one clinging on for dear life despite me telling him I wasn’t doing it anymore.

The client is Nigerian, married and cheap as all hell. I mention that he’s Nigerian as he likes to play the “my sister” card whenever he’s due to pay me. He never pays quicker than 3 months late. It’s unheard of. He never pays what I ask for he always wants a deal. That WAS  the deal.  And he always flirts. He calls me darling, asks me to dinner and just thinks that this is appropriate behaviour. I say no, ask him not to refer to me as darling or kiss me and he ignores it. Heavy sigh. We argue a lot.

But back to this morning. I call back The Client and he’s all in a panic. He has a meeting with a potential Contractor I did a tender for and he doesn’t have the finances on him. I offer to find them and send them to him but no, he wants me at the meeting. I ask him when this meet is and he says today. TODAY!  I ask what time and he says 10.30 in North East London. I swallow my nausea, mutter ‘for fuck sake’ under my breath and jump out of bed telling him to text me the address and I’ll be there.

My morning routine is down to 20 minutes helped by the fact that I never wear makeup or bother with hair. I know, I think a lot of my friends despair for me but I really don’t care enough. But today I’m all puffy from lack of sleep. There are limits! I throw on some sunglasses as no one should see this mess. Even I know this.

But I find the documents, leave and with a last minute taxi ride make it to the business park with 5 minutes to spare. Feeling pretty proud of myself I’m greeting by the client blagging Minion whom I despise and The Contractor who looks incredibly pleased to see me.  I peer at him from my vantage point of 3 inch heels and wonder if he’s just pleased that I’m not late?

“I know Chelsea,” he declares. “We worked together in 2003! Gosh those were mad times.”

Er, we did? They were? I don’t remember this man at all. So unlike me because normally I’m great with faces but this isn’t a face many would remember.  But then he starts telling me about myself and I have to fake remembrance. This isn’t a skill I’ve mastered but I did ok.

The meeting was over quickly. There was no reason whatsoever for me to be there but to hold The Client’s hand. The Contractor however decided this was an opportune time to stake his flirtation claim. Why? I smiled and make convie but then noticed that The Client was not happy. Ah yes, he was allowed to flirt but no one else right? I don’t know how this man thinks I would make a good mistress when he doesn’t pay on time. But I digress

And so started an awkward interaction as the 2 apes postured and tried to show each other who was the bigger alpha man.  The Contractor insisted that he have my number so that we could catch up. I reluctantly gave him a business card. The Client competitively got his BIGGER business card out and slammed it on the table. I see your card and I double it. He then nudged Minion to take his out. I don’t know what’s going on in Minion’s bag but he brought out some crumpled looking thing that wasn’t impressive. I think The Contractor won that round. And this is why being a women in business sucks. You have to be able to keep the sex out of it which would be great if it didn’t mean having to referee a match between two imbeciles both married who just like having their ego stroked. Irony is that if I ever flirted back they would run a mile. Subtle I’m not.

In the search for equality in the work place the self employed woman has no protection from the attentions of clients and contractors. You’re only option is to stand back and ignore it or turn down work. It’s not easy especially when your recession has double dipped financially and in terms of dating. So spare a thought to all of those women out there who are their own bosses and have to face this constant harassment which I THINK we are meant to find flattering? I’m really not flattered. Let me be clear. The only Alpha person in that room was me watching two boys fight over a toy that was puffy and just wanted to be in bed. Idiots!

But I’m back home now in my ape free zone with a lovely eye mask to soothe my pains. Let’s hope the rest of the day gets better.

© Chelsea Black

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