Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

Just Say No

Drugs are harmful to your body.  Just say "no" when offered them.  It's as simple as that.  Or so all elementary-aged American children were told in the 80s and 90s.  Simple?  Maybe.  Peer pressure builds up, though. Now, we're older.  Some of us are freelancers.  Sometimes, we get offered jobs -- or offered the possibility of jobs -- that we know we shouldn't take.  Why?  We'll have to deal with demeaning project managers.  The work is mindless.  We'd be translating very poorly written copy from the source language.  We'll lose an entire night's sleep to get the job done.  It's harmful to our bodies, and to our sanity, and especially to our happiness.

Even so, when a new agency approached me with the offer of possibly working together, we haggled on rates a bit, I listed my specializations (at their request, which is important for later), and I agreed to do a small test for them.  I stipulated that, since the test would be unpaid, I'd only do a small one, less than 250 words.  A reasonable amount of work for a test.

They then sent me three tests to choose from (nice!).  But wait...all the tests were over 500 words, and none of them fell even remotely within my specializations.

Enter the psychological pressure: "I'd really like the work."  The brain rushes through countless excuses for why I should just buckle down and slog through the test, but they all boil down to "I'd really like the work."

Let's be clear.  I don't know if I'd get any work, or if I'd be at all qualified for the work I'd receive (based on these tests), or if I'd enjoy the work that I was qualified for.  But still, brain goes, "I'd really like the work."

Fortunately, I have an Other Half.  He reminds me that I can, in fact, overrule my worried brain with logic.  What's the point of doing a long, unpaid test that may lead to work that's most likely not in my area that I probably wouldn't enjoy for a lower rate than I normally charge?  None.  There's no point at all.

Just say no.

(Do so respectfully, of course.  But just say no.)