How Writing 400 Cards A Week By-Hand Helped Me To Move Out Of My Pit Of Hell

J. Harris

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Why would I do this?


I moved to another state along with my family, without a job because I had retired. Moving expenses were more than I had foreseen them to be. I was in a financial ditch with family and they were angry that I did not have the income I once had so they could have what they once did. They all were young and had jobs, but I was retired and 64 and did not have one. It was difficult finding a job at this age that was not overly physically demanding. All were grunt jobs and I didn't want that. My heart was not in it anymore and neither was my back.

Finally, I found a position as a "remote independent contractor card-writer" for a pet food company writing “Welcome,” “Holiday,” and “Thank You” cards. Part of the vetting process was to write a small paragraph in- person on a card to check out your handwriting skills and also the usual background check. They took this information into consideration and if they could read your handwriting you were in. It looked like it would be a fun environment, but I could see the underlying chaos even then. Photo by David Beale on Unsplash

They started me off writing 100 cards for their holiday card drive. I was fine with it. Those cards were due in a week. They would pay me $.34 a card and this is only if I did not make any mistakes, followed directions, wrote accurately in the correct colors, and legibly. They also gave me a list of names, addresses, and products the customers bought. What could go wrong?

This was a fairly new company researching Google and was the only company in the country doing this handwriting gig.

I brought them home and immediately started my remote job. The few paragraphs that needed to be written were easy, and this job took about four to five hours a day. I counted out how many I could easily write in an hour and proceeded from there. At the beginning I had no issues about anything and I returned the cards on time and got more each week for about six months or so.

My kitty, Nee Nee, would keep me company and sit on my work each day helping me get through the day and keeping me cheerful with her antics. Photo by Author “Nee Nee” Author photo “Nee Nee”

This went on until two weeks before the holidays. With all the contractors and some staff members writing, they finished between 50,000 to 100,000 cards in around six months. These were written by-hand. That was their goal, so they met it and mailed all the cards out.

Things were going fine, so after the holidays we were introduced to “Thank You” cards. They were new and very colorful and looked like fun. They gave us 400 cards each week along with the new lists of clients, products, and colored pens. These had to be returned in a week as well. I was dubious but took them and planned out my day writing.

Time passed and I realized my right hand was becoming very sore from the constant use of holding a colored pen and writing for four to five hours straight a day. I would have to take a break after a few hours as my hand and wrist hurt. My arthritis was acting up, my fingers were also getting numb and swollen, and my usually quiet carpel tunnel syndrome was screaming at me.

I soaked my hand from time to time in ice water and rubbed it with painkiller so I could do this job. I was only making $144 a week, less if I made any mistakes, but a job is a job and money is money. The things we sacrifice for the “Almighty Dollar.”

In the meantime, the company was bought out by a well-known pet store conglomerate. I asked the staff people if there were going to be any changes in the contractor job in the future and if they were going to continue since the buy-out. They knew of no changes, so I did my 400 a week. Then, “Ta-Da” changes occurred.

Comical Bullsh*t

They got very critical of my handwriting even though I had been writing the same way for over eight to nine months. They wanted me to "change my handwriting.” You can't change your handwriting. It is part of you. They would say such things as, “Slow down, you write too fast.” or “Change your font.” (WHAT?) Such comical bullsh*t occured. It would get worse and worse each week, but I still made my quota and made my pay.

Four was the most mistakes I ever made in a weekly batch usually less. And those mistakes were subtracted from that weekly pay totaling about $1.36. So serious!

I took their comments with a grain of salt. Each week the criticism got worse and worse. I was making whatever changes they wanted; I was cooperating, but it was never enough or never perfect enough for them. They were getting so wrapped up in the triviality it became unreal, and I was not going to suffer from their unfounded criticism anymore. They were getting more and more ridiculous.

Finally, after giving it a year of the “ol’ college try” I returned their box for that week and received the usual pay check and never went back again.

The funny thing was no one ever noticed or asked if I was returning or what was going on. Weird! There was never a call, text, or email. It was as if I never existed. Photo by Vinicius "amnx" Amano on Unsplash

At the beginning of the new year they moved and it would have been more difficult to get to their new location as my car was not in good shape so the confusion of the move may have had something to do with it. You never know!

I would name this company except they have great prices for pet products and their delivery service is top-notch so I won’t. But their reviews from past employees and contractors are rather bleak and bad. What’s more important; making money, customer service, or employee happiness?

After that was over I became interested in writing and realized that I had a course in copy writing that I had never looked at closely, so I studied and completed it to have another skill to market. This didn’t really pan out, either. If you wanted to follow-up and continue you had to pay some big bucks which I did not have.

I somehow ran across where I was writing stories and that site led me to At least I don’t get insane and baseless criticism. If I did it is for things I could easily change not "pie in the sky" requests that didn't make sense.

Now I am continuing my journey as a writer to see what else is out there for me.

Jo Ann Harris is an author, parent, book devotee, writer, copywriter, and film fanatic. She is an autodidact who learns about everything and rows her own boat. She grew up and worked in Atlanta, Georgia and lived there sixty years. She writes articles about love, hope, personal life stories, advice and poems. She is a published author with an article in Woman’s World magazine in October, 2017.

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I usually write about a lot of subject matter from my own personal life to animal behavior. Everything in between. I have been writing for over two years but have always been a writer and avid reader. I lived in Atlanta, GA for sixty years then moved to South Florida and it was a huge change for me. I write truth as I see it in hopes it will help others.

Plantation, FL

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