In May of 2008, my friend, Jimmy, asked me if I would do his sister a favor. She had some kind of "Miss Whatever" job thing going on and had to be out of the country. The problem was, she had a dog and could not take her dog with her. So Jimmy asked me if I would take care of the dog. I agreed. Shortly after the dog was brought over, on May 14, we discussed payment. At first, I suggested $50 a week. (This was my very first pet-sitting gig, so I was not clear on the standard rate.) Jimmy disagreed, saying $100 a month was better. Sometime later, I got an e-mail from his sister, Ruby, saying she knew she had to pay me $100 a month to take care of her dog. Sometime during her being out of the country, she sent me two payments of $200. The first went towards helping to pay for a trip to visit with my family in California. The second one, she made on May 26, 2009. In all that was the total amount of money she paid to me: Just $400 after one year of caring for her dog. And after we both agreed she would pay me $100 a month!
I have tried, for nearly a year now, to be paid the rest of the money that Ruby Solano owes me. But, all for naught. She is convinced she doesn't owe me another cent and she refuses to pay any more. Even after she told me, in person, on May 26, she would send some extra money.
I'm very upset about the whole thing. I trusted her and she ended up betraying that trust. I took care of her dog like that dog was one of my own. Jimmy bought food for the dog once; I paid for the food at all other times. The dog chewed up two of my baby's toys. I also paid for a new dog bed, to have her groomed, and for a new leash and sweater (since the leash they left with her broke).
Ruby lied to me and acted like a two-faced person in the end. And, in the end, she refused to answer any and all e-mails I sent to her. I had to go to her brother, Jimmy, to find out what was up. She talked to him, but she WOULD NOT talk to me. She did not have the decency to explain herself, explain why she lied to me, and why she even thinks she doesn't owe me another dime. Because, obviously, she is very, very wrong. I have the records to prove as much.
But....I don't have a contract to back me up. No agreement whatsoever. So Ruby gets to kick me to the dirt and walk away. She has lost my trust, my friendship, and any kind of positive thoughts I could ever have for her. Not to mention she'll get ZERO support from me and my children (who now know she is a liar) for her future career.
I tried to be nice but now, at this point, I can no longer be nice. I am extremely angry about this. It's even hard for me to organize this blog post in a logical manner.
Anyway. The point is, like I said, I didn't have a contract. I didn't have an agreement. IF I did, then maybe I could take her to small claims court. But I can't. An e-mail don't mean squat in court like a contract or an agreement would.
So. I'm out $800. I feel used and manipulated, but I have had that very same kind of experience in the past with my pal Jimmy. So, what should I expect? You know? I guess dishonesty runs in their family.
I'm bitter because I REALLY could have used the money. The second $200 went towards buying my kids new clothes, which they desperately needed. This money would have helped me to buy them new clothes again, which they once again need (of course!), and also help me pay a couple of bills. But I guess not. My kids will have to wait longer to get clothes that fit them.
This kinda thing, the pet-sitting thing, was just something I did, you know? So that I could have some extra income for my family. This is WHY I did babysitting in the past and cleaning houses in the past. I needed the money for my family! This isn't play money I'm trying to earn. I'm not trying to make money so I can go to Vegas, or something. (Or have plastic surgery, like Ruby did after returning to the States.) These odd jobs I have done have been to support my family. Just as the writing jobs are for supporting my family!
But now I have learned to never, ever, ever, EVER work without a contract. NOT EVER. It doesn't matter if I am working for a friend, a sibling, a friend's sibling, or a friend of a friend. Always, ALWAYS, have a contract or legal, notarized agreement. ALWAYS. Even if somebody is honest, the contract will at least be a reminder that a business deal is in place. And that it has to be honored.
Well, maybe in a perfect world, they would be honored. From now on, I'll never trust so easily again.