no paella for me

after three long months of being dragged around by the paella lady, the paella is no more. i am so relieved.

a friend of the mother of the boyfriend of a friend, she called to ask me to make a paella for a wedding she's catering this summer. she said that she'd never made it before, and had heard that i was really good at it. i kind of tried to get out of it, but she insisted that i make it. i said i'd be expensive, and i just made up a number (i had just worked at the getty's and used that as a starting point). i was kind of delirious, and didn't think about how much work it would actually be, and i felt kind of guilty for quoting so much, so i told her that i'd make her a sample one sometime to show her what she'd be getting. i also said i'd only do it if i was the one who'd make the broth, and insisted that she let me buy from my own sources (monterey fish, the spanish table, pacific gourmet, etc.). she seemed to agree to all of my conditions.

and then the phone calls began. i barely answer my phone as it is. everyone thinks i'm mad at them, but really, i never even check my messages. she wanted to schedule a time for me to make the sample. somehow, the sample turned into a dinner party for the wedding party and guests. the number of guests at the wedding rose by 50. and the paella changed from a four-hour paella station to paella for 200 all at once.

ugh. i began regretting it. i realized that i'd been nuts when i quoted her a price, and that i'd basically be doing four days (four days!!!! i already work so much, i don't even have four days a year to myself!) of work for a few hundred bucks. so, i went back and told her that i had to change my fee to a flat rate. i sent the email the night before i went to her house to make the sample paella.

when i got there, she didn't say anything about the email, so i assumed that she hadn't seen it. but toward the end of the night, i brought up something from email, and she said that she'd read it. and since she didn't say anything about my fee, i figured all was well. i mean, these people live in mill frickin valley--both the caterer and the client. the client's yard is bigger than live oak park, a veritable redwood forest! if anyone can afford to cough up a few hundred bucks to pay for what they said was the most delicious paella they'd ever had (the bride even said that the paella was so good, she wanted it to be the main course instead of the second course), it's them.

the next day, the phone calls began again. she said that my requests, both for using monterey fish, and for my fee, were outrageous and completely disproportionate to her budget. she said she wanted to make the broth out of her own fish (which was kind of stinky and had obviously been frozen when i went to her house) and just wanted me to come cook the paella. the broth is the most important part, i said (and besides, she called me because she's never made paella before, right?) i said i wasn't willing to compromise on either. i said, they seemed to like it so much that i'm sure they'd pay the extra money for it if she just asked, and she said that she wasn't willing to compromise her professionality by re-quoting them a price (implying that i was being unprofessional by raising my price. which i was. but to be fair, the guest count rose by 25% and she suddenly wanted all of the paella at the same time, which is about 6 times as difficult). so we parted ways. thank goodness.

my only question is, why the heck did she wait until i did this whole dinner for them to tell me? why didn't she just tell me before i went to all that trouble? i mean, now she's going to have to explain to them why i'm not there and why the paella is not the same.

oh well. i guess this was a good lesson for me to learn. i work too hard to undersell myself. and the sad thing that i learn over and over each day is how unwilling people are to spend money on what they eat, at every level of the food chain. all i'm saying is, you get what you pay for.

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