Comic Non-Sans: What do they expect?

I was a little leery of telling this particular story publicly until I discovered that almost the exact same thing happened to a friend of mine in recent weeks.  So now I don’t feel so bad.

In both cases, we were approached by a coworker who knew of our side creative work — or, in their mind, “hobby.”  In both cases we were asked to do something gratis.  And in both cases, we were informed that we shouldn’t want money for it because it’s something we enjoy doing, and thus we should welcome any opportunity to go about it.

In both cases, the coworker was severely disappointed.

We can’t be the only two people to which this has happened.  There must be dozens, or hundreds, or however many unfortunate types who have been approached by people in the 9-to-5 world who see what we do outside working hours as a sunshine-and-roses happy-fun-time that we would do anything to engage in constantly.  Which is, of course, not to say that I hate the art I do.  Then I wouldn’t do it.  But there are my self-set responsibilities, the things I get paid for, and then the things I personally feel like doing on my own for giggles — some for friends, some not.

It’s hard to say whether this assumption on their part is selfishness or obliviousness.  You instinctively see them as a selfish sort, but they may not be of a creative mindset.  Perhaps the concept of freelancing or that quasi-job-hobby doesn’t really click with them.  Will you ever be able to explain it to them?  Probably not, if they don’t have a frame of reference.  They understand Work (the thing you get paid for consistently) and Hobby (the thing you may get paid for inconsistently but choose to do without contractual obligation).  That said, there’s probably a smidge of selfishness in there, as I know plenty of people who don’t quite grok the concept of what I do but still offer reimbursement of some sort if they want something from me.

All that in mind, how responsible can we hold these people for this mindset?  It’s hard to say.  I’ve attempted a variety of ways of dealing with this.  In some cases it’s worked, in others it’s just made things worse.  When it comes to internet acquaintances or congoers, I’m not terribly worried about alienating people, or people thinking I’m mean or selfish.  In a work environment, though … you can’t help but see it as a bit of a worry.

Which is a bit of a bugger.  Your logical self thinks that if they’re in an office setting with you, they’ll understand the importance of reimbursement for services rendered.  Right?  But that’s logic, and you can’t use logic when dealing with other people.  There’s a level of tact that, theoretically, can be achieved.  But it’s more difficult when you will be near that person constantly.  Are you obligated to compromise your personal standards for the sake of preserving office harmony?

In a word … nah.

I’m sure this is filed under “office politics,” and perhaps only Paranoid Parrots like me get concerned about that sort of thing, but I think it’s true in all areas.  Yeah, that can be a little tougher if they’re asking for, say, help with a present for their two-year-old daughter who will want something to treasure for years.  Or something.  That may poke the guilt gland a bit, but surely they’ll work something out.

I suppose I could say maybe they’ll respect you more for sticking to your guns, but they may just get annoyed if they’re not geared the same mentally.  Regardless, that gives you the time to decide what to do with your energy.  Even if that involves forgetting about productivity in favor of art-based roleplaying on deviantART.

… perhaps that’s a topic for another time.

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 01:00 by Kara Dennison · Permalink
In: Columns, The Written Word, Webcomics, Webcomics · Tagged with: 

One Response

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  1. Written by Chris
    on 2011-06-29 at 06:36

    Honestly, I would have cut them off at the first sign of trouble explained to them about when a hobby ceases to be a hobby. If I’m doing it for myself with no prodding from others good, if someone’s bugging me for something, that’s work. However, in all the scenarios you can play out in your mind, you’re probably damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

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