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maestrowork
05-21-2008, 08:18 PM
Jason's thread in the writing forum ("Tom Stoppard paid $1.12 million for reworking 30 pages of dialogue") prompted me to think: Have you ever gotten an "obscene" amount of money for relatively "little work" and did you feel guilty about accepting the pay? When do you say, "am I worth it"?

We hear about actors getting paid $25 million for doing a movie. As an actor, I can say we live in a "feast" or "famine" environment and 98% of actors don't make that kind of money. We hear about writers getting 7-figure deals. Still, I've been paid close to $30,000 for basically five days of work. In IT I charged my clients $250 an hour. At times I did think "sheesh, that's a lot of money" and I felt kind of awkward taking it. On the other hand, I was like: "hey, if they're willing to pay me, why am I complaining? I deserve it."

I guess I was raised in a working class family so my feeling about work vs. money is a bit skewed. My parents worked 60-hours week for little money, and they were proud. It boggles the mind how I could make $6000 a day for doing less than what they did in an hour. That's why I feel guilty sometimes.

But damn I'm not giving back the money. No way.

DeleyanLee
05-21-2008, 08:36 PM
My father had a story for that kind of dilemma that I've always remembered.

Back in the days when computers filled warehouses in order to do math calculations (yes, my father worked on those machines), and rooms were air conditioned so the open circuit boards wouldn't overheat, a computer failed.

They called in an expert (sorry, don't remember the name), who listened to the problem, looked at the skematics of the computer and told them that the problem was there and drew an X on the skematic. Techs looked and found that a moth had gotted fried on the board, creating a short circuit and causing the computer to malfunction.

The expert sent them a bill (remember, this is way back in time) for $1000. The execs objected to this outrageous amount and demanded a detailed accounting of the charges.

The expert sent this back:

$1 for marking the trouble spot
$999 for knowing where to find it.

It's not the work people pay big money for--it's the expertise and skill.

And if you've got it, why shouldn't you get paid well for it?

Liam Jackson
05-21-2008, 08:46 PM
I think I've mentioned this before, Ray. I'm grossly overpaid. I know it. My employer knows it. But I don't set pay grade/scale parameters. I don't control supply-and-demand for primary and secondary skillsets. I do, however, cash the checks.

And a good time was had by all.

(Of course, there have been a few days when I've said, "Man, they're not paying me enough to do this sh*t!")

maestrowork
05-21-2008, 08:52 PM
But Liam, you have special skills not many people have. You deserve it. I don't feel like I do.

C.bronco
05-21-2008, 09:05 PM
Oh boy. They'd better allot a big budget for Capon Frank, The Movie then! Of course, you must play yourself in the movie, Ray. You look just like you.

Liam Jackson
05-21-2008, 09:11 PM
But Liam, you have special skills not many people have. You deserve it. I don't feel like I do.

You may feel that way, Ray, but at the end of the day the market determines the value of all goods and services.

It's sorta like listing a 1976 Ford Pinto in the classifieds. The owner might think it's a piece of crap, or he might think it's worth all the gold in Knox. In reality, it's only worth what someone else will pay for it. If the market determines your IT, acting, and/or literary skills are worth "X," ...they are.

mscelina
05-21-2008, 09:29 PM
When I was just starting my antique books business, I went to an auction in a rural county nearby. It was snowing--hard--the barn was unheated and the cracks in the ceiling let snow drift onto the books stacked any which way on the tables below. As I was ransacking the boxes to see what was there before the auction started, I saw something familiar--something I'd seen on the cover of Book Collector Magazine just two days before.

A near-mint condition first/first US copy of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier--WITH the dust jacket, also intact.

I nearly peed. I knew that (unless there was some sort of damage that I couldn't find on a cursory examination of the book) that this particular book in this good of condition was valued between four to six thousand dollars. So, I replaced the book in the box (underneath a couple of bigger books so it wouldn't get snowed on) and stood RIGHT THERE until the box of books went up on the block.

I bought the BOX for $1. I sold Rebecca overseas for $3,100. Did I feel guilty? Hell, no. I still sold the book for under the listed appraisal value, which meant that the collector had immediate valuation for his money.

And I'll never be guilty for being just a little smarter than the rest of the people freezing their wazoos off in that cold-ass barn. Best auction buy ever--and the profit margin was quite...well...acceptable to me. :D

Liam Jackson
05-21-2008, 09:34 PM
When I was just starting my antique books business, I went to an auction in a rural county nearby. It was snowing--hard--the barn was unheated and the cracks in the ceiling let snow drift onto the books stacked any which way on the tables below. As I was ransacking the boxes to see what was there before the auction started, I saw something familiar--something I'd seen on the cover of Book Collector Magazine just two days before.

A near-mint condition first/first US copy of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier--WITH the dust jacket, also intact.

I nearly peed. I knew that (unless there was some sort of damage that I couldn't find on a cursory examination of the book) that this particular book in this good of condition was valued between four to six thousand dollars. So, I replaced the book in the box (underneath a couple of bigger books so it wouldn't get snowed on) and stood RIGHT THERE until the box of books went up on the block.

I bought the BOX for $1. I sold Rebecca overseas for $3,100. Did I feel guilty? Hell, no. I still sold the book for under the listed appraisal value, which meant that the collector had immediate valuation for his money.

And I'll never be guilty for being just a little smarter than the rest of the people freezing their wazoos off in that cold-ass barn. Best auction buy ever--and the profit margin was quite...well...acceptable to me. :D

Perfect example. You had the necessary skills/knowledge, knew your market, supplied desirable goods/services, and received commensurate compensation.

JoeEkaitis
05-21-2008, 09:47 PM
After what some of us have been through, no amount of money would be obscene.

aka eraser
05-21-2008, 09:57 PM
When I was about 6 years old I picked worms and sold them to fishermen for 25 cents a dozen.

One day a guy paid with a $2 bill and told me to keep the change. I was flabbergasted and promptly retired for a whole week of reading comic books and eating penny candy.

maestrowork
05-21-2008, 10:02 PM
$2 was a lot of money in 1929, Frank. ;)

I once got a tip of $40 out of a $60 meal. I thought the customer made a mistake. Nope. I still don't feel like I deserved that tip. Something was wrong with them.

WendyNYC
05-21-2008, 10:03 PM
I bartended in college and raked in lots of tips. I made much more per hour than I did starting out as an advertising executive.

Southern_girl29
05-21-2008, 10:18 PM
I wish I could say I was overpaid, but in all honestly, all of us who work here at this newspaper are grossly underpaid. If it wasn't for my husband's paycheck, we'd be living below the poverty line. It's ridiculous because all of us are educated and doing skilled work, yet most of us are not even bringing home close to $20,000 a year. Sorry for the vent, but we just found out that they are putting another freeze on raises, which means not one for the second straight year. And, yes, I've been trying to find another job, but this is what I know how to do.

However, I used to sell on eBay and like Celina, I bought items at auction. The best one I had was $500 Zippo lighter that I paid $1 for.

maestrowork
05-21-2008, 10:19 PM
A friend of mine got a wheelchair at a flea market for $20. He fixed it up (minor fixes) and sold it on eBay for $2500.

So yeah, know your market, I guess. I don't have that skill.

zahra
05-23-2008, 01:04 AM
I wish I had the skills, expertise and qualifications to be grossly overpaid.

rhymegirl
05-23-2008, 01:06 AM
Answer: No.

On the contrary, I never get paid ENOUGH for what I do.

pconsidine
05-23-2008, 01:14 AM
I guess I can say that I've almost had the experience. Back when I was doing high-end retouching and color correction, the company I worked for charged something like $400 an hour for the really cream of the crop work. Not that I was actually paid that much, but it was about as close as I've ever been to being grossly overpaid.

Otherwise, I'm definitely in the underpaid crowd (educational publishing). What really sucks is that our clients don't want to pay for the proper skillset, but they're more than happy to bitch about it when things go wrong. Of course, if I wasn't so determined to work in publishing, I could easily make 50% more to do the same thing for an ad agency or marketing firm, but I guess them's the breaks.

Mr. Fix
05-23-2008, 01:36 AM
For all of you who feel you are earning too much $$$ please send it to me! I will not feel guilty about taking your excess money.:snoopy:

The best I've ever done was earning a good living doing Tech Support for HP. But then I'd get calls from some Joe-Shmoe Tech in the field earning twice my base pay and calling me for advice. (I know I should've started my own 'field' Tech Support, but I don't have any certs, just the knowledge I learned growing up with PC's.)

Let me know if you need me to clean out some of that 'evil' extra moola!:D

PS: I did feel funny working along side people who spend four years to earn a degree earning the same amount as me - but not "guilty" - more like I was able to do something on my own that they needed help to achieve.

hlwriter
05-23-2008, 02:30 AM
As a member of the Writer's Guild of America, I've been contracted on several occassions for absurd amounts of money. Depending on the level of expertise and needs, I've ranged from $300 per hour all the way to $1000 per hour. At first, I was blown away that anyone could be paid that kind of money for what I feel is an enjoyable task. Like the OP, if someone is willing to pay me then I am not giving the money back either.

Yeshanu
05-23-2008, 03:35 AM
Ray, I think you've been hanging out in the "broke" thread too much. I think what Liam and DeleyanLee have said is right on the money, pardon the pun.

I get paid $10 an hour to manage a movie theatre. It's a job that requires hard work and putting up with rude and unruly customers. But lots of people want to work in the theatre, and it doesn't require much more than a rudimentary knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic, so they can get away with the low pay.

I preached last Sunday for a very small congregation. A one hour service, during which I talked for about twenty minutes. Two to three hours preparation, for a total of maybe four hours. Pay, $125. Still not in your league, but way above what I'm used to, and way above what most of the people sitting in the pews are used to.

But I was in school for ten years to be able to do that.

If I were to use my public speaking skills in a business, I could probably manage a per hour rate that comes closer to yours. If and when I do, I won't feel guilty unless I'm not delivering what I promised.

Until then, yeah, I'm underpaid. But tomorrow night, when I thread Indiana Jones through the projector and push the start button, I'll feel an amazing sense of satisfaction that not only am I helping hundreds of people enjoy themselves, I'm enjoying myself doing it.

Let's make that $10 plus benefits. I love my job. :D