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Biting the hand that feeds

Sad lesson in helping others



2:47 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

An ex-coworker, contacted me about doing a website for her business. I said I'd gladly help her out. I made the basic site layout, but we needed a graphic artist for the logo because I am simply NOT an artiste.

A current coworker had a daughter who just graduated from college with a degree in graphic arts. Perfect! I thought it would be nice to help the girl out. She's young, was looking to build her portfolio, etc. I put her together with the ex-coworker and everyone hit it off. The ex-coworker had a very definite idea of what she wanted for a logo and explained it both in person and in writing to the girl.

Long story short(er), the logo that was designed was extraordinarily bad. It looked like something I did in second grade when we were learning two-point perspective drawings. The client didn't like it. She reiterated what she was looking for. The girl tried again, without paying any mind to what the client was looking for, and the client terminated the contract. The girl had received a down payment for the work, but the client, not having received a usable logo, would not pay the rest.

So now the girl is suing anyone, pointing the finger at anyone but herself for her lousy work. She didn't listen to the client's needs, she didn't listen to me when I said she needed to be SPECIFIC about the conditions under which the contract was to be accepted as fulfilled and under what conditions the contract could be terminated by EITHER party, and now she's crying foul because she's not getting paid in full.

She wants to sue her dad for giving her a template contract to use; she wants to sue me for critiquing the contract; she wants to sue the client for not paying. I'm not worried about any potential lawsuits. Really, its under $100 that we're talking about. But I'm really saddened and hurt by the whole thing because I was trying to help the girl out and she went psycho because she couldn't handle criticism about the quality of her work. On the phone she was sobbing because her computer had just broken down and repairs were going to be expensive. I said I was sorry to hear that, being completely sincere, and she snapped at me, asking me why would I be sorry about that? Oh, I don't know. Maybe because I'm HUMAN. Even after that I offered to talk to her because I knew she was so upset and she answers by threatening to sue me.

I was honestly just trying to help out a "starving artist," get her a first break. So was my client. Neither one of us knew her, had seen her work, etc. It is a VERY sad lesson for me in trying to help another human being. She will NEVER hold down a job if that is her reaction to having her work criticized. Does she think she can spout off to a boss at a permanent job who doesn't like her work? Will she sue if she gets fired for gross incompetence?

And never mind that I look stupid for having suggested using her in the first place. Oddly enough, I'm more concerned about this girl than I am with the fact that my name is now mud.

I don't know what to do with this overwhelming sadness, disappointment and hurt at the whole thing. I can say, that I will NEVER give someone a helping hand that way again. I would have KILLED for someone to mentor me the way I mentored her but there was no one there looking to help ME out. Talk about sticking your head out only to have your head chopped off!


3:04 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

That sucks.

-Gibble aka "Captain Obvious" :p


3:23 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I can say, that I will NEVER give someone a helping hand that way again.

Please don't let one bad experience ruin your outlook on the human race.

There are plenty of other people out there who would not only be extremely appreciative of the opportunity for the work, but would learn from the constructive criticism to do better in the future.

Given the fact that she doesn't listen to the clinet and just does what she wants shows that she's always going to have trouble holding down a job in that field. She's much better becoming a real starving artist. Then she can go out an sue all the people that don't buy her work. :)

Damn those twenty-somethings! Right Gibble? ;)


4:14 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My dad helped a lot of people. Some of them were as grateful as the girl in the OP. Some were worse, one even robbed him. My dad died when I was young. There was one guy he helped who saved my ass in a big way when I was in my teens (I won't go into details). If my dad were alive today he'd smile and say that it all panned out well in the end.


4:51 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

No good deed goes unpunished! :o(

Sorry about your experience. You tried to help. Don't let this sour you on
helping other people. The world needs more people like you and less people like her!...KF


7:33 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member rocknbil is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Okay let's put another spin on this.

I totally agree with you, and have encountered *hundreds* of situations similar to this - try to help someone and somehow it all comes back to bite you. A project gone bad. A good project that some vulture reviews and nit-picks every item to make you out to look like an idiot. Lend someone money and they them assume the attitude you think you're better than them and you think they "need" your help. It doesn't matter what it is.

My point is how *you* are affected by this, and how you manage the backlash of paying it forward. If you've done this out of altruism and not to benefit your ego (this point is obvious) it should be easy to just let it go. True, it's hard to do, because you wonder, was there something else I should have done, is there something I could have done to avert this?

The answer is no. You can't change people, all you can change is the way you react to them.

Stay your path, keep paying it forward, and let this spoiled brat discover how the world works. This is a perfect example of adults that are a result of lenient parenting. They are just not prepared to fall. You did your part, move on to the next one. :-)


8:26 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

sue her - for the emotional turmoil she's put you through


2:32 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks for all the support. It really is appreciated. And yes, darn those twentysomethings, I tell ya. The ones who need to be managed "differently". :)

I guess I should appreciate the experience. As much as it has hurt me, it has taught me volumes about myself and how I've changed. A few years ago, I would have been LIVID at the whole thing. I would have written the most vile invective against the girl, something to make sailors blush. Now I'm just sad for her. I've mellowed in my old age. Dangit! I'll ruin my rep...

I'll probably be updating this as the drama unfolds. I got a nasty-gram from the girl about how she was going to call a copyright lawyer. I don't know what good that will do. She is contesting the contract, not the actual files she sent. Oh well.


2:43 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

lol, glad to see I'm known the forum over now as the "twenty-something" :)


4:29 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

99% of those I'm gonna sue threats stop when they hear the lawyer fees.

BTW is she from South Carolina?...........

[edited by: Wlauzon at 4:30 pm (utc) on Aug. 30, 2007]


4:48 pm on Aug 30, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wonder did you see any samples of this girls work before you recommended her? You shouldn't get stressed out over the whole thing, you tried to help and apparently she is the type of person that will never get anywhere in life cause of her attitude. It's always good to try to help and it's always best to never work for friends.


8:22 am on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This is an almost unbelievable tale. She's threatening (we all know she won't) to sue her own dad?! What does her mother (your co-worker) think about this. She must be mortified at the behaviour of her daughter. How on earth did they manage to botch her upbringing so badly that the daughter acts like this?

Don't take this problem to heart. It's not your problem, or your fault, or any of your business. Your responsibility ended when the client met the girl. Your client went into this on their own volition and if it goes wrong then it's their problem. The only thing that may concern you is if the ex-coworker somehow holds you responsible for events and any impact that may have on your future income. Since you only made an introduction I see no grounds for that.

I know you said that you are more concerned for the girl - well that's nice and all but you can't run her life for her. It's not your problem so leave her to sort out her own mess and chalk this one up to experience. It's time to butt out emotionally as well as practically.


11:55 am on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member essex_boy is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Two occassion this year I helped someone, on both I was stiffed.

One thought it was completly acceptable to entirly revamp his side of a deal - I mean totally change everything, then became agressive and abusive in the extreme when I wanted to alter the level of payment to them because of this.

The other one caught me for $120 (60) despite earning around $2200 (1100) per week.

Some people are wonderful arent they?


1:34 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The problem with designers fresh out of school is that they think they've learned all there is to know about the business of design work. After all, that's what they paid for, right?

I had an attitude similar to this (but not nearly as extreme, I hope!) when I first graduated with my degree in Commercial Art. But my degree didn't impress prospective employers - they wanted experience. Your friend's daughter is the poster child of why employers want experience to go with that education.

Let her go six months to a year looking for work and being told she needs experience. Let her get fired for her attitude a couple times. She'll get the message eventually, and she'll be a better designer for it in the long run.

Either that, or she'll end up flipping burgers.

Continue to help people out and give people a break. But next time look at her portfolio first.


1:47 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator jatar_k is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

well, if you only try to help one person and get burned then it will always be bad to help people

sad when it turns out like this but it happens

keep helping, you're not helping them for you, it's for them

you have given this girl an experience she will learn something from, in an environment, because you and your client acted very reasonably, that is safe.

The same behaviour in almost any other environment would have left her with a black mark on her reume she may not have been able to recover from

good for you for trying to help, and I think you did, though it wasn't the lesson you thought you were teaching


3:37 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

If, someday, the girl somehow learns what she did wrong and has the courage to contact you and apologize, I'm sure your faith in humanity will be compeltely restored. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

But if it does somehow happen years from now, please post it here. See if you can get Brett to re-open the thread at that time. :)


8:17 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I wouldn't be surprised actually if ten years down the road she does look back on this and think to herself: "Oh God, I was inexperienced."

It's tempting to think once you're just out of college - I remember well! - that you are now fully qualified, you will do your work and you will climb the ladder within your professional field. It does not occur to you that just because you have a degree doesn't mean that you know how to operate within a professional environment.

Let's face it: you don't. You've spend your whole life so far in an educational environment.

The moment you get your first knockback can come as a real shock.

She's probably more upset with herself than anyone else even though on the surface she's blaming everyone else in an attempt not to lose face.

Relax. She'll get over it.


12:08 pm on Sep 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thankfully, her dad, my coworker, COMPLETELY understands and even offered to pay the rest of the contract just to have her go away.

Yes, isn't sad that she is so self-destructive and delusional as to sue her own dad? How can you NOT feel sorry for someone like that?

I have cut off contact with her since she threatened to sue and I think that is the part that makes me feel the worst. Its true; I do wonder what I could have done differently to have helped her or resolved the situation to everyone's satisfaction. I feel like I failed her after I promised to help. But, you're right, I can't change anyone and there is no right combination of words or actions that would have caused a different outcome.

No, she's not from South Carolina.


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