I am like the old-fashioned mom-and-pop-stores in small neighbourhoods, where beyond selling wares, there’s a personal connect between the service provider and the customer. I do not take on too many clients because (a) there’s only so many hours per day and (b) I go beyond simple language corrections and provide content suggestions as well and this takes time. You may ask why I do the latter. I do it because when I get a manuscript for correction, it becomes a matter of personal responsibility and pride.

Most of my clients are loyal to me, perhaps because of the extra mile I go for them, and they have stayed with me for many years. Since we have known each other (even if virtually) for long, we go beyond provider-client, and there’s definitely a personal touch to our conversations.

Lately, I have been serving new clients – usually people who have been directed by these long-term clients of mine. All of these are young people just starting off on their careers. I don’t expect to have an instant rapport with these people, firstly because we are new to each other, and also because there’s a sizeable age gap between us.

Still, there are a few behavioural aspects of these young people that baffle, and even offend me.

  1. When they email a manuscript for editing, there’s no cover letter to speak of. If at all there’s some body content in the email, it is a cryptic “find attached”, that’s all. No “Dear ma’am”, “I am sending you my manuscript…”, “I need it back by …” – Nothing. When I send them an email asking them when they need it, there’s a two word reply – “by thursday” (yes, sans punctuations, and rudely abrupt).
  2. I send them a reply to the above saying “Thank you. I will send you the edited document by Wednesday night”. There’s no reply, but that’s ok. But promptly on Wednesday morning, I get a mail saying “a reminder” (even twitter allows more words for heaven’s sakes)
  3. I send the edited manuscript by Wednesday night, as promised, along with the invoice for the work. Total radio silence. No acknowledgement of receipt. I spend the night wondering if the mail went to their spam folder, or they didn’t see it in the barrage of irrelevant mails, or what. I worry that they would miss their deadline because they didn’t receive my mail in time for some reason.
  4. Around Thursday lunchtime, I send them an email asking them if they received the edited manuscript.
  5. As a reply, I get a screenshot of their payment notice.

The last really gets my goat. I feel cheap, like a prostitute who got paid for unsatisfactory performance. My query was most certainly not about the payment. I am known to defer payment if the client, for some reason, can’t pay it. I can wait indefinitely for the payment, if at all – and never send reminders about payments. I just want to know that they got the manuscript, if they had any questions, and if they were able to submit it on time. Instead I end up looking like a debt collection agency, sending a collection notice to a defaulter.

Finally, nowhere do I read “please” or “thank you” in their mails. Yes, it is my job. I get paid for it. Does not mean one can’t be polite.

I wonder if this is a generational thing, if DM and instant messaging have completely killed traditional communication etiquette.

I think I will retire when my old clients stop needing my services.


The client who sends gazillion emails asking about the status of their work, would go AWOL the moment they receive the product. How hard is it to simply acknowledge receipt of the edited document?

Second client did this to me in the past three days. I thought acknowledging receipt of an email (not a junk mail, but an email you’ve been waiting for) is basic etiquette?

Or am I a digital dinosaur?


Transitional thoughts

I am sick of monkeys stealing clothes hung out to dry

I am sick of a clowder of kittens waiting for me to open the door so they can run in and run amok all over the house, tripping me.

I am sick of little black bugs crawling all over the house.

I am sick of that big rat snake that nests in my backyard.

I am sick of pests that blow holes into the leaves of my plants.

I am sick of that large mango tree that won’t let sunlight down, so that no plant grows.

There. Now that I have gotten that out of my chest, I can go back to loving my heavily wooded protected forest area neighbourhood.

No really, I love it. Peeves and all.


Things like these that a mom says can lead a teenage daughter to the shrink’s couch, unless she has a good sense of humour: “You look like a bulimic French model on her off day”.

Thank God my teenager has a terrific sense of humour.

Nouns that become verbs

I am aware of the use of the word “detailed” as a verb form of “detail”, but reading it in a formal document makes me edgy. I prefer “described” to “detailed.”

What would you do, if you were a copy editor who saw the word “detailed” in your client’s manuscript? E.g., “the proposed architecture is detailed in the following section”? Would you leave it as such or change it to “described”?

I would change it to “Described”. I am just curious to know what other people would do.