I've gotten a lot of warnings in my life, usually with that sick feeling in my gut that all is not well in the world. I've been thinking about that quite a bit this week because I've been trying to collect money from someone who doesn't want to pay, and I keep thinking of that moment when I set her key down on a table while my insides screamed to hold it hostage. I want to think the best of people, but I've seen this kind of thing before.
When I was a kid, a handsome young man pulled up near me and waved me over to his car. He looked as fresh and perfect as any image I had ever seen of the idealized All-American, but my insides spewed acid, and I didn't trust him. He talked me over, but I also hung back. "Closer! I've got something to show you!" he said, and I angled behind him so he couldn't grab me. More requests and demands to get me closer, and I eventually saw over his shoulder a porn magazine on his lap. He tossed it aside and was naked underneath. I ran.
I wasn't hurt by this event, but I've thought of it through the years. Trust my gut when it says "Warning!" I don't know how I knew the guy was dangerous. I don't know why I knew Stacey was going to rip me off when I turned in the key. I just knew it.
Maybe I should say that I know about contracts, and clear agreements are always a good thing. I've written lots of them. Most people behave decently, but there are those who seem to think the rules don't apply to them. I did web design for a guy with a clear contract, but didn't know his working methods would end up as a raw deal for me. When I tried to renegotiate, he was unavailable, but still managed to send more work while I kept saying "We need to talk!"
I'm imagining a very hot volcano where we can push these people in to save humanity, and artists in particular.
I'm also trying to push these thoughts out of my mind because I have an opening at a gallery this evening. I'm trying not to think about previous patrons who've tried to rip me off in a different way by negotiating prices down. The gallery gets its cut, the companies making frames and art supplies get their cut, and the only one who loses in the negotiation is the artist. Do plumbers have to deal with any of this? They work. They get paid. Nobody says that since the plumber loves his work he should give his time away.
Even so, my gut is peaceful today. The opening will be fine. I guess I needed to vent a bit, and I'm shoving these negative thoughts aside because it's like dwelling on the last bad boyfriend's behavior and projecting his actions on the new guy. Each boyfriend and job has been a learning experience, and in the end, each painting needs to find its home.
This illustration is on scratchboard. I added the red in PhotoShop because I felt like having some red today, but I'm thinking about hanging the original in my office as a reminder to get the money before turning in the key!