One of my peeves is the callous attitude some folks have when payment is not involved. We know that when a contract (verbal or written) involves money, it is a professional agreement and deadlines count. But what about agreements that don’t involve exchange of currency?
Some people think these aren’t real, or binding, or at the very least “not as binding” as deadlines set by bosses/contracted editors/clients.
I learned this lesson years ago, when I was part of an organization of volunteers who put together a biannual review of the private schools in the bay area. We met, the chosen head organizer set directives for the standards of the reviews, and we accepted which schools each of us would review. The head set fixed deadlines for submitting the reviews. Some people covered only one school, but I had two schools to cover.
When the deadline came, I submitted my reviews. They entailed research, two school visits to each of the schools, (one an organized tour and the other an impromptu school visit) and interviews with people whose kids attended the schools. No small feat when I had a preschooler and a toddler, as well as a mother who was full time in my care. The head organizer had the added task of looking over all the reviews and making sure they met the standard of the catalog the organization set. It had been a much-lauded publication for over twenty years.
Only the head organizer and I met the deadline. She then had the added task of nagging and needling the other volunteers to submit-please-do-it-NOW. She managed to gain some gray hairs before the publication heroically met the final deadline in time for the Bay Area Private Schools Fair.
I have since encountered this lackadaisical attitude in critique groups and beta readers, exchanges that do not involve money but do involve agreement to exchange favors. Most folks are professional in meeting standards and deadlines. But then there are others who regularly forget/get distracted and miss these obligations altogether...
...oops, so sorry!
I am not referring to unusual occurrences. Life happens. There are medical and family emergencies. There are situations we can’t plan for and couldn’t even have the ability to notify when they happen. But these are not the rule, and if someone almost always skips and slips, we have an unprofessional attituder (I made this word up 😎) on our hands.
What these folks are saying, in effect, is that because they are not paid, they’ve pushed others and their schedules to the back of the bus.
What to do about it? For myself, I make it a policy not to be such a person. That’s what I do.
At the beginning of this post, I didn’t call it a pet peeve, because I think it isn’t petty to ask for respect. I can’t fix others, but I resolve to be the kind of person I respect. It makes me feel good.
I highly recommend it. If you’ve been such a slacker, change this for yourself. I think you’ll feel good.