Today I hit my second, as it turns out relatively minor, bump in this twisty turny road towards freelancing.
Things were off to a great start this morning when I sent off an application to an agency and – pause for dramatic effect – actually received a reply. After getting over the shock of seeing a name pop up on my email app that did not belong to my husband, I eagerly opened the correspondence only to learn that the references I had provided were not acceptable. Following in the footsteps of my freelance mentor before me, I had only given the names of referees who worked at my former company. In retrospect, this may not have been the best idea; but the truth is that my confidence in having worked in-house for one of the biggest translation agencies in the world had clouded my judgement. Why on Earth would they care about any previous jobs? Surely dropping the name of this industry heavyweight was all it would take to get me onto anyone else’s books? Sadly not.
Now, I mentioned that this was the second bump in the freelancing road, the first bump being a request from an agency to see copies of my degree certificates. Cue panicked search of the house before realising that 1) I had absolutely no idea where said certificates were 2) The most likely place for said certificates to be was in a storage locker in my home town. Two hours’ drive away (our car hasn’t started for about three months now). On that occasion, my poor mother and stepfather saved the day; spending a Sunday morning pawing through black bags full of papers that spanned thirty years. Unfortunately, this time I’d probably have to sort the problem out without my mummy.
Just one further snag with regard to references. My former boss is on maternity leave. Oh, and the company that we worked for dissolved two years ago. Feeling justifiably foolish at having assumed my reference from the one company would be good enough, I wrote back to the agency and explained the situation in the overly explanatory, too-much-information way that I tend to slip into when panicked. Meanwhile, I emailed my former boss and hastily begged her for a reference. Then felt terrible on both counts.
Just as I was sinking into a spiral of self-loathing at interrupting my former employer’s wondrous first months with the brand-new life she had created, she got in touch to say she’d be happy to provide a reference. To her, it was nothing. To me, it was a resolution to always, always do whatever I could to help anyone feel the gratitude that I felt then.
If I’ve learned anything from the past few days it would be that it doesn’t cost the Earth to do a good deed. This weekend, I saw someone administer CPR to a half-marathon runner who had collapsed just past the finish line. Although the runner is sadly still in a critical condition, there is a very real chance that that person saved his life. Sometimes, amidst a media storm of hatred and gloom, remembering the good in people can go a really long way. Giving someone a reference is by no means a matter of life and death, but to me it made a difference. Things may be tricky on the job front right now, but if ever I can, I want to be the person who brightens someone’s day just that little bit. There’s nothing to stop me doing that.