Jessica is seeing her neurosurgeon and getting good news, and the nurse makes an appointment for a follow-up visit in six months and ushers us out, asking, “Do you need a written excuse for work or school?”
And for one mad moment I cannot make any sense of what he is saying. I hear the words but they do not compute. I’m a grown adult, so, no, I do not need a freakin’ written excuse to go about the business of living my life. What are you even talking about?
And then I realize that the default method in the world of work and education is to treat people as if they are incompetent or lying or both. Because that’s the only explanation for what is clearly a routine question for an exam during business hours. I guess if I were employed in the traditional corporate world, I’d be forced to ask, “Please boss can I take my daughter to see the neurosurgeon? No? Okay.”
I get that some people abuse the system and would miss three weeks of work out of every four if they could, but then you deal with the abuse of the system. You don’t just assume that everyone is out to rip you off. And if you believe they are, then maybe you need to rethink your hiring practices. And your life philosophy. And maybe your entire life. In fact, I think you need a vacation.
Jessica’s school assumes that when I call them up and say, “Jessica has a doctor’s appointment so I’ll need to pick her up early from school,” I am not lying. They assume I am telling the truth. Imagine that. If she missed a lot of school, they wouldn’t suddenly impose a liberty-infringing note-from-the-doctor requirement. They would, you know, call me up and ask me, “WTF?” Then they would try to help.
I know. Apparently this is all wrong.
Anyway, that got me to thinking about all the things that suck about being a freelance writer: hunting down the work and dragging it back to the cave, hunting down the payment and dragging it back to the cave, working nine gazillion hours a week, dealing with soul-destroying editors and agents, and honestly the list sometimes makes me think coming down with a flesh-eating infection would be less painful.
But the one thing that doesn’t suck about being a freelancer is that I don’t have to get a written excuse to go about the business of living my life. Freelancing for the win.