Saturday, January 3, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

For the past four years, I've been struggling with finding enough transcription work to keep afloat. The sudden proliferation of electronic medical records (where the doctor clicks things on a computer screen instead of dictating into a recorder to be transcribed for the patient chart) has been the demise of my career choice. I've lost my last 6 or 7 clients for this reason.

It got so bad last year that I finally tried to find an in-office job, and was blisteringly unsuccessful in my attempts. I was borrowing money to pay bills and living on credit cards to some extent.

Finally, at Thanksgiving a year ago, I was hired by a Florida transcription company. There was plenty of work, but boy did my pay-rate go down. I went from charging 11 to 12 cents per line to receiving only 7 cents per line. I had a 1,000-line-per-day quota and it took me a good 10 hours to reach. For all you math whizzes out there, that equals $7 an hour with no benefits and I still had self-employment taxes to pay. It was not fun. But, it was steady work and I slowly caught up on my debts.

But then in June I got was called back to work a previous client, Dr. M and Dr. S. They are the best ever. The work is fairly easy, Dr. M makes it fun (when he burps, he's been known to blame it on the patient who is standing there in front of him aghast), and best of all, I'm back to making about $30 an hour.

On top of that, I started working for a friend who runs a mental health agency out of state. I'm only their "back-up transcriptionist" but it's pretty steady work and I'm so happy.

The problem is that my butt seems to be superglued to my desk chair. I wake up in the morning and go to work and stay here until I'm too tired to finish anymore and then go off to bed. My TiVo queue is filled with a dozen Desperate Housewives episodes that I've yet to have time to watch. Netflix copies of Boston Legal have been sitting here for three months waiting for time to spare so I can see what's happening with my two favorite whiskey-sipping flamingoes.

Last week, when Dr. P's office called and said they saved my resume from last year and they were hoping I could do their Canton office's work (3 doctors, but only one per day), I said yes before the hamster wheel in my head started to even spin. What was I thinking? When, exactly, did I think I would have time to take on another nearly full-time account by myself??

Fortunately, I had the forethought to explain that I would have to wait until the weekend to begin their work. That was fine with them. They were just happy for the help.

All week, I've had butterflies flittering around in my tummy at the mere thought of starting this account.

Finally, I made the executive decision...what good is earning another couple of hundred dollars every week if I don't have time to spend it? Now that we have the money coming in so I can buy the big-screen TV, I want to be able to sit down on the weekends and watch a movie with the beasties (but I get to pick the movie, those freaks are into gruesome horror flicks. eewww).

So, Monday when I should be turning in a week's worth of work, I'm actually going to be calling to apologize and admit that I can't take on the account after all. I feel like a real schmuck for this, but I know it is the right decision.


  1. Instead of spending whatever free time you HAVE on books and TV and family, you should be trying to figure out a way to clone yourself.


    (Sorry, I know this stings, but sometimes you just gotta say no.)

    (Good luck.)