Illustration by David Kantrowitz

Karma Had Exact Change

How Money Kinda Made Me Believe

I hate when people say “I guess it was just meant to be.” I don’t like the notion of people throwing up their hands and deciding to “let the universe take care of it.” It always comes off as a cop-out, a way of placing blame somewhere vague and hippy dippy.

Unless, of course, it works in my favor.

I recently finished up a freelance illustration gig for a client who was, to put it mildly, unpleasant. I met him through an improv class, which is generally a way to meet level-headed and like-minded people. As a client, however, he would do obnoxious things like text me demands at one in the morning.

Most importantly, when the job was done and I’d sent my invoice (two logos for $150), I was met with radio silence for three weeks. When I finally confronted him about getting paid, he threw a fit and accused me of overcharging him. (This didn’t stop him from using the logos I’d made, but I digress!)

My first reaction was pure, blistering rage. Then I took a breath. Like everybody I’ve ever judged harshly, I left it up to “the universe,” and sent him the following message:

I’ve done lots of artwork for the improv & comedy community, and it’s always been a positive and fun experience, so your reaction threw me a little. Nobody has ever balked at my fee the way you have, so I can only assume I did a poor job conveying how I operate as a freelance illustrator. I’m usually pretty good at explaining my process, but because you and I already had a rapport from class, I probably skimmed over it and assumed we were good.
I don’t want there to be any beef, and I want all my interactions with the improv community to remain supportive and happy. So I’m waiving my invoice and telling you guys to just “pay what you want.” Even if that means “zero,” I’ll chalk it up to a misunderstanding and a lesson learned.

It seemed like the right thing to do, or at least the quickest way to put this ugly thing behind me. I lost $150, but I had gained the powers of Karma Batman! I captured this crook and left him on the doorsteps of Arkharma Asylum, with a note that said “your call, dude!”

Cut to: one day later, I get a check in the mail, but from a different client, for a larger project I’d recently completed. This client was more friendly and professional, which probably yielded better work from me. He appreciated the work I’d done for him so much that he paid me a bonus. The dollar amount of that bonus was $150.

I guess it was just meant to be.