So, last week, I had a conversation with a client that went something like this:
Client: Could you fill out this 2-page form so we can get started on the project for which we would like to pay you a lot of money?
Me: You bet! *works with great enthusiasm* There, done!
Client (returning an hour later): Erm, could you fill out the 2-page form completely? You know, both pages? All the blank spaces? Where it says “Please fill this in”? Could you fill that in?
Me: Oopsy-daisy! My bad! Can’t imagine how I overlooked that. *works with more great enthusiasm* There, done!
Client (returning an hour later): This form? *shaking it not very patiently* Could you fill out the damned form? Completely? The second page and everything?
Me: Oh, there’s a second page?
Two days later, same client:
Client: We were sent this carton of widgets, but some of the widgets we ordered weren’t shipped. Could you compare the purchase order with the widgets in the box and tell us what’s missing?
Me: Sir, yes, sir! Thank you for giving me this opportunity, sir! *works furiously* Sir, there are 100 widgets on the purchase order. The company shipped 73 widgets. The missing widgets are the 10 blue ones, the 10 red ones, and the 10 green ones. Glad to solve your problem for you, sir! Let me know if I can be of further assistance!
Client: *scratching head* Erm. 73 plus 30 doesn’t equal 100.
Me: Right you are, sir! My bad! *works furiously* Sir, there are 100 widgets on the purchase order. The company shipped 75 widgets! I didn’t see these 2 at the bottom here. And so, the missing ones are the 10 blue ones and the 10 red ones, but all of the green ones are in fact accounted for. I apologize for the error. I promise it won’t happen again! Sir, thank you for your confidence in me, sir!
Client: *making great effort at restrained patience* 75 plus 20 doesn’t equal 100.
Me: You are absolutely right, sir; I’m an English major.
Client: Yes, I guessed.
Me: But I know I can do this! *works furiously* Sir, there are in fact 95 widgets on the purchase order, that was my mistake! And I notice that it’s 8 blue ones that are missing; 8 blue ones, 10 red ones and 2 orange ones, which I miscounted the first time. But you may want to check my math.
Client: I plan to.
Me: I’d be glad to help you with any other problems you may have, sir!
So, in a complete agony over my stupidity, unequalled since I was about 23 and looking for fun, I called a friend. “Oh my lord,” I moaned. “And I like this client! I really want to keep him!”
Now, a good friend would say, “There, there, you just made a couple of mistakes. You’re a good person, you’re good at your work, I love you and think you’re beautiful.”
But a great friend would say what my friend the magazine editor said, which was, “Yeah? I got a call from the page designer asking if I really wanted to put the picture of the falcon with the story on the elephant, or if, perchance, I actually, despite my strict instructions otherwise, would prefer to put the picture of the elephant with the story on the elephant.”
Me: *incoherent with laughter*
Me: Thank you.
Friend: And then she called back an hour later wanting to know which, of the three different page 46s I submitted, was the real page 46.
This is what friends are for.