The dignified loser

When I was taking my business law back in the Graduate School, our professor introduced me to the term, industrial partner. As defined, the industrial partner is a member of a company whose contribution evolves only on services, instead of money and property. He told us that in cases when the officers of the company will face legal monetary charges (pardon the inappropriate term), the industrial partner becomes free from any liability. This can be explained by the nature of the industrial partner’s contribution. Any service rendered can never be returned or recovered.

This rationale of the industrial partner made me felt a slight punch on my face. The idea is people who are engaged in services are more prone to end up in a worst off position. Considering my personal experience, allow me to explain things.

Those who know me well or were at least reading my previous posts are aware that I accept freelance works in the form of research writing and consultation. What I earn from my freelance work is just enough to fatten my very slim savings account, a pair of shoes or a well deserved monetary gift for my parents. I started gaining clients after I finished my MBA and when I started teaching. In one way or another, I was able to establish some credibility from teaching and perhaps from the words of my previous clients as well.

As much as I love the tasks involved in every freelance job, another aspect of the job I should equally love are my clients. I may not be the best in the field but I exert all means to serve them well and foster the best professional relationship.  I know that my clients are the  lifeblood of my freelance work, but they are never my God. I respect each client but I don’t go to the extent of worshiping them. If worst comes to worst, (which almost but never happened to me yet) I’ll play it by “part.” I’ll finish my part and after this, let’s forever part ways.

I respect my clients regardless of who they are. Whether the client is older or younger than me, I treat them equally. I do the job and submit everything before our agreed deadline. Once the work is done, this is where a critical issue comes in.

When the service provider completes the task, it’s but proper that he is compensated. It’s a business principle that is assumed to be known by everyone. Assumed!  It pains me to accept that such word sometimes complicates the situation. When something is only assumed, should we not expect that it is bound to happen all the time?

Late last year, one of my relatives approached me to assist the husband’s thesis. Filipino culture dictates that we are relatives, I didn’t present my usual professional fee. But since they insisted and even asked for my bank account number, I told them the modest amount I charge.  I never expected to be paid but here’s the catch, the husband promised to deposit payment to my bank account. Months passed, I never heard any word from the wife and husband again. I saw them in a recent family reunion and to their avail, they ignored my presence and rendered that classic “dedmatology” (ignore a person) attitude.

Setting aside the monetary issue, my point is when you promised something, DO IT instead of BRAGGING IT. I also believe that fulfilling promises qualifies as a business principle.  You don’t even need to enroll to a prestigious Catholic university to learn that.

Recently, I was happy to accept another set of research writing jobs. Though we have very limited time to finish everything, God knows how many hours of sleep I forgo to serve them well. I told them my rate, they agreed, I made the job and here I am left hanging in the tree of uncertainty.

Being greedy for money is the last thing I want people to remember me. Whenever I accept freelance jobs, I tell them my rate and the extent of services I can render for them. Other than that, I leave everything to the client’s will. I don’t even implement the exact terms of payment. My principle is plain and simple, a service rendered deserves due and proper compensation. Once I’m done with the job, settle your responsibility too. It makes no difference in getting a hair cut. Once the stylist is done, you pay to the cashier and leave. Business is closed. Everything is mutual and equal. You don’t run away from a salon, spa or a restaurant. You wouldn’t want to be called as a shameless swindler, especially in front of other people. Service rendered, payment received. Simple yet it appears to become complicated for some clients.

Whenever a client decides to leave me after the work, I have nothing to held on. Since I’m doing everything for freelance, I don’ t usually implement contracts and everything. I treat every client as a decent and honorable professional. Hence, being the educated people they are, I assume they know how to carry out their responsibility. But the sad part is,  not all  educated clients are honorable enough to abide  with professional agreements.  When a client refuses to adhere with the principle of honor and respect, what can I do? If client has the shameless balls to dishonor, deceive and enslave me, what can I do? Can I retrieve my services? Can I tell client to return my report? What will I do with the report anyway?

I guess this is one thing I have to bear with my job. Part of being a service provider is the chance of becoming oppressed by an educated acting uneducated client. At the end of the day, though I ended up as the worst off slave, I know I did my part. I can walk away with my head help up high because I know that I’m the dignified loser.

Life after “bracing” myself

I waited for this day for four years.

Four years ago, I availed of the tooth filling benefit at the workplace. In the course of the procedure, the dentist told me that I’m prone to experience a locked jaw. In my mind, my reaction was “what was that?” The dentist told me that the constant sound made by my jaw bones every time I open my mouth signals that I need further treatment.

My initial move was to google and self educate. I later learned that there is a possibility that a person can’t anymore close his mouth as a result of a joint disorder. Whew, that frightened me to death! What if that happened to me in the middle of my class, meeting, or anywhere.

I went to another dentist and consulted my case. This time the dentist told me that my case will be better treated by a TMJ specialist. Another encounter with a nosebleeding term… What the hell is a TMJ specialist?

I went to my cousin’s house to relate my condition. My cousin is not a dentist nor a TMJ specialist but she has been our reliable initial consultant for our health issues. We both couldn’t understand my condition but she knew someone who is a TMJ specialist. This started my years of journey with my metal wires or commonly known as braces.

In an August holiday four years ago, it was my first time to see a TMJ specialist. I went to Dra. Lovi’s clinic to finally clear things about my condition. And there, I was surprised with the amount of money I needed to raise to treat my condition.

The treatment I have to face consisted of three stages, the TMJ treatment, orthodontics (braces) and the finishing treatment. God knows how much I prayed and begged for freelance jobs to finance my ever expensive problem.

During the TMJ treatment, I was asked to wear this plastic rubber appliance

I have to wear this appliance at least one hour a day and during my entire sleep. Dra. Lovi told me that this device is designed to align my upper and lower jaws.

It may not look intimidating but God knows the agony I have to endure whenever I wear this. I can’t open my mouth whenever I’m wearing this piece of almost eternal sacrifice. Imagine the discomfort of never opening your mouth for a hell of 1 hour and sticking the device to one position. Though the appliance is made of a soft plastic rubberlike material, it still pained like hell because it forces my upper and lower jaws to be positioned in one direction.

After eight months, I retired this appliance and I was finally installed with the metal wires or braces. Did it hurt like hell too? The braces of course hurt, but it wasn’t painful the way I expected it.

Things remained the same on the first day I wore my braces. The only discomfort I had was like having the feeling of beads attached to each of my tooth. The pain came two to three days later. If eating involves any intensity of biting, my lower molar will release a sudden painful sensation. If I bite the thinnest piece of potato chips or even those deep fried french fries, the agonizing pain will rise and soon torture my entire mouth.

Aside from the toothy pain, how can I forget sharp and rough edges of the brackets. Mouth Sores were erupting each day and that tortured me to the fullest. Some of these evil eruptions were impeding my speech and even the way I chew my food.

I guess everything settled down after three weeks. I continued with my monthly consultations and after spending around Php 50,000, Dra. Lovi had the heart to cut my monthly dues.

I had free consultations for 6 months and that gave me a huge financial relief. The 6 months went so fast and here I am writing this post.

On Tuesday, (hopefully) I’m making my last payment to Dra. Lovi for the last phase of my treatment. My braces are off and I will soon wear the newest technology in dentistry, the invisalign.

Hopefully, I’ll finish the entire treatment within a month or two. I’m looking forward on the day I can finally smile without those dental impediments again.

Here’s my “braced” journey in pictures.

Warning: Yucky teeth ahead

Now you are free to vomit! I know I have just ruined your appetite.

and finally

will meet my invisalign soon.

What makes you beautiful?

While waiting for my flight back to Manila, I purchased a UK based issue of OK Magazine. I initially don’t have plans of buying the magazine because I was never interested to the lives of those American and European celebrities. However, I realized that I still have a number of HK coins. The coins will be useless as soon as I arrive in Manila because money changers only accept bills. Rather than collecting those coins, I decided to buy the magazine that could afford the last few coins left in my pocket.

The most that my coins could afford was the March issue of UK’s OK magazine. Faced with no choice, I purchased the magazine and boarded to the plane.

I started reading the articles though I can only identify a few of those featured celebrities. Most of them, I never heard in my entire lifetime. Traveling alone and fighting boredom, I read an article that transcribed an interview with Holly Willoughby. I obviously don’t know her and for heaven’s sake I don’t even know how to pronounce her family name. I learned that Holly will be the host of UK’s version of The Voice. If not because of my colleague, I also wouldn’t know the reality TV show, The Voice.

As I was reading the article, my attention was caught on this

Please focus your attention to this question

“How do you manage to always look so sexy and glamorous while being a hands on full-time mother of two?”

I love Holly’s honesty. It was one of the best answers I’ve ever heard! Holly particularly acknowledged the team responsible for her looks. She also admitted that she’s human and she doesn’t look good all the time.

Not that I hate or criticize the culture in the local showbusiness, but if the same question was posted to a typical local celebrity, I bet a different story will be related. Some boxed responses we might be reading are the following,

It’s all because of my family who makes me happy.

I guess, it’s in our family’s genes.

I exercise and maintain a healthy diet.

I guess it’s all because of my positive outlook. Beauty comes from within after all.

I drink more than eight glasses of water everyday.

and the answer that deserves an award!

It’s all because of Product XYZ. It is rich in Vitamins A to Z that helps make your younger and glowing.

LOL! Sometimes, it’s not really bad to be true and brutally honest.

Photo credit: UK OK Magazine’s March 2012 issue