My fellow translator Ryan Ginstrom yesterday wrote about one of those problems that can arise in the translation business when one is dealing with both the ultimate consumer of the translation and an intermediary.

As luck would have it, I was having a conundrum at the same time that was so perfectly complementary I can’t help but write about it.

I had previously corresponded with a potential client about some work. I didn’t get the job at hand, but he said he’d like to work with me in the future. Shortly after, he approached me about some new work. I dealt with him and a new co-worker of his. They sent me an NDA, which I signed and returned, provided them with an estimate, and they gave me the green light. This happened over the course of one day.

A few hours after I started working on this job, I got a phone call from someone who I had never heard of, at a company I had never heard of, who explained to me that all the independent contractors who work for this end client have to go through him. On the one hand, it was obvious that he must have gotten my name and number, and some facts about the job from the end client, so presumably there was something to what he said. And as soon as he realized that I had not been brought up to speed on this situation, he backed off and agreed that I should clear it up with my contacts at the end client. On the other hand, having a complete stranger insist that he was going to interpose himself in the deal after the fact was unsettling and seemed a little dodgy.

I did indeed talk with the end client, and he did indeed assure me that everything was copacetic—that his company pays off agencies to shield themselves from the unspeakable horror of being seen as dealing directly with freelancers—even though that is exactly what they are doing, and the agency serves as a flimsy fig-leaf against some kind of legal exposure.