chasing through tangled (and silent) wires

end of semester, things are done and i am almost at rest point.  almost.  well, i am chasing after the very last payment.  it's not the easiest thing to chase/being chased after and i think it is a difficult situation. i wonder how it will all turn out, probably fine...


one of the things i will work on is always have a written record of a verbal contract.  if contacted through a phone call or text, i will always write back to through email.  phone calls have no trace and texts are too fussy.  but email, not only it leaves tracks, it can be accessed through many different medium.  

in middle of busy april, i received a call for accompanying a difficult sonata, less than two weeks go- hey if she's been having a difficult time finding a pianist, i will do it!  at this point, somehow the crucial info of fee schedule was lost inbetween- in that weird quasi-real space between the phones.  we agreed on the date/location through writing.

you see, i shouldve made sure that i have typed the fee schedule on that email but i didnt. mistake number 1.

as we are all working on a budget, we tried to keep the rehearsals/lesson to minimum.  i sent the final bill invoice as soon as i can, which happened to be day before the recital as we rehearsed right up to day before the recital. on the day, head full of logistics and performance-related thought, she said she wants to talk about it later- i thought: okay. i played the recital and went off to the next gig, waiting to hear back.  

month of may was a bit crazy though. the bill was larger than the budget she had left and i could not agree with solutions she came up with.   i wrote emails and texts as best as i could, though  i later learned that my writings, which tends to be head-on, was viewed quite aggressive (which i hoped it to be 'pro-active') and that made the other party quite hurt.  with the perceived pressure, she ended up putting it off for later (as her natural inclination in conflict situation).

silly enough, both of us were banging head on the wall.  both frustrated with what we perceived as 'other' was imposing (she thought i was pointing fingers at her, i thought she was being elusive).  but really, after all, it was just a simple personality conflict. however, without the face-to-face meeting, the written correspondences got more convoluted in each step.  mistake number 2: when things dont go well in written language, perhaps, try changing the medium- coffee, anyone?

once met face to face and the personal differences were addressed, the resolution was rather simple.  since neither could explain about the missing fee schedule, we agreed on the mid-ground rate.  and i wanted her to know that i wasnt trying to be 'better' or 'demanding,' i wanted to do it well.  ooh misplaced enthusiasm...

i didnt wanted to be rude or threatening.  all i wanted to do is play well, let her have a pianist for a difficult sonata as i enjoy challenges, then get paid.  she felt wronged as i used strong expressions to reject her solutions and kept pressing for replies.  i certainly didnt want her to have to sell a kidney, or even worse, to have bad taste about this incident.  all she wanted to do was have a good recital and pay me for the work- yes, there was a small discrepancy regarding the rate, but it was easy enough for both of us to work it out.  why didnt we do it sooner?! (though, things always look simpler in retrospect)

while in conflict, loads of friends say that it is so unfortunate! and yes it is, for both parties. as much as i hate trekking down, others hate being trekked down for it.  

i initially wrote on this post: i wonder how the meeting will go tomorrow.  could i have done something better? would i be able to convince her that im not trying to emotionally blackmail her?  how do i explain my reasons for frustration (slow correspondence)?  what is she thinking (without that sarcastic tone of voice)? have i done any wrong to her? 

i suppose i will have to find out- and i did!
this is the first time i have to deal with such situations.  many people around me have told me that they have bad debts.  even in my income tax form, there was a section called 'bad debts' for freelancers.  but this does not have to be a bad debt. and it didnt have to become a bad debt.  all we had to do was calm down (just like we were told in kindergarten), express, listen and THEN progress.  as much as i want to be clear in written communication, perhaps it is not as clear as i hope it would be.  and i surely will never forget to put the fee schedule in writing before anything, for both parties' benefit.

in any case, i am thankful that she has agreed to meet me (as that does take certain kind of grace and courage) and i am glad that we worked the solution out. how nice it is to have untangled wires finally.  


  1. fortunately it's a rare situation- but it's very hard to know what's exactly right to do. Perhaps because, with any luck, we don't get enough practice at handling this kind of thing!

    I hope it resolves happily.

  2. and it resolved so nicely! after weve cleared the personal differences in such situations (me: head first, her: puts distance first), we were able to bridge the difference- she felt pressured to corner and i was frustrated with silence.

    we came to a compromised rate (smack in the middle) and she'll wire it once she's got enough cash flow in first wk of july.

    and there's no bad air. it's all been cleared. i thank her for coming out to meet me and i will always remember to stay considerate. i thought i was, but there's always more than i can see at a moment.

    though, frustration was real. haha.