A couple of months ago I mentioned a review of the film The Pursuit of Happyness, taken from a positive psychology perspective. I reproduced the review’s 224-word abstract (journal lingo for short summary provided by the author), duly citing the author, source and relevant copyright notice. I even wrote a short blurb describing the publication in case readers were interested in the whole review. Then, silly me, I checked in with the publishers to make sure it was OK.
Well, I’ve just received a reply and it seems that No, it’s not OK. I can only use 100 words of the 224-word abstract, or ‘there would be a $75 permissions fee and a specific reproduction notice would be required’. Yikes – paperwork! So I’ve edited down the abstract to a $75-and-paperwork-free 98 words (with apologies to the author, who seemed to think his abstract needed 224 words).
It reminds me of the time my holiday bonus was significantly overpaid. I called payroll and told them of the error, thinking they’d say something like ‘Oh, how honest of you. We’ll check into it and correct the error. Thanks so much, and have a nice day now.’
Instead, I was harshly interrogated on the phone, called to several meetings where I was further cross-examined by what I can only imagine were payroll detectives, and subjected to the worst kind of torture – you guessed it: paperwork. There were reams and reams of forms requiring me to call (I’m not kidding) payroll for the answers. (I also have a distinct recollection of asking the payroll gumshoes if they were going to arrest me for smoking, but as I don’t smoke I have an instinct it’s from a movie.)
What did they suspect me of? Placing my own money in my account, hacking their systems to make it look like they’d paid me, then ringing them to take my money and complete the sting? Genius! Someone call George Clooney because he’s gonna want me as his Ocean’s Fourteenth.
Sometimes I wish I were less super-scrupulous – it’s such a pain. But you know, I have enough trouble sleeping at night. The last thing I need is middle-of-the-night visions of being hauled off by the abstract-reproduction police, subjected to blinding lights, bad coffee and – No! God no! Please no more …paperwork!