Friday, October 12, 2007

Construction Orange

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some weeks you feel like you must be living right ... or that you are just one lucky bastard. Probably the latter. This was one of those weeks.

A couple of days ago, I made $60/hr for 5 hours to stand around and eat donuts. A client of mine who owns a print shop was having a $100,000+ large format plotter delivered to his store and installed by the techs who brought it. It was one of the most complicated devices I've ever seen and took them until noon just to assemble.

Not to get too technical, but my sole purpose there was to make sure that the new device got an IP address from the network so that it could be accessed by all the computers. 5 minute job ... tops! But there was no way of knowing when that 5 minutes would be. So, my client wanted me to be there the entire day. And he wanted to pay me for the entire day. I tried to insist to him that we discount the amount of hours. He would hear nothing of it. He just felt more comfortable having his "computer guy" there while they were setting everything up. He'd had bad experiences in the past with other techs and wanted someone he trusted to watch over everything.

I get that he was not just paying for technical knowledge but also piece of mind. He appreciated the work that I've done for him in tough situations in the past and knows that I always go out of my way to be honest and thorough. And that I'd never overcharge (he's actually accused me of undercharging!).

So, forget all the technical crap, I was basically a DOT worker standing around on the side of the road, "supervising". I just didn't have the orange construction vest.

Speaking of undeserved benefits, one of my clients gave me his extra Palm Treo 700p yesterday. Broadband Internet, Palm OS, QWERTY keyboard, etc. Sweet. I am the master scrounger. This is a $500+ phone and less than a year old. It was bought for his dad, but the dad decided he wanted the iPhone instead.

Yeah, I'm really living the "simple" life. Sorry, but I dig all those crazy toys way too much.

In the past, clients have given me football tickets, baseball tickets - you name it. I mooch with the best of 'em.

Well, not really mooch. I don't seek out any of this stuff. I've just been fortunate. There are some regular clients that I've had for 8 years plus and who I would go do work for any time of the day, any day of the week. And I always bill them less hours than I work. You build a good relationship in any job and there is a lot of things that go above and beyond a normal business relationship. That's probably the biggest aspect of this job that I like -- the close friendships that I've built with a lot of my clients.

Hopefully, my good fortune has something to do with the way I run my business. I don't believe in karma in a mystical sense (I believe Shawn's our resident "karma" expert), but I do believe that in the grand scheme of things if you do good for others, it generally comes back around. But even if it doesn't, it's still the right thing to do.

"Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." -- Steve Jobs


CyberKitten said...

When lady Fortune smiles at you the only thing you can do is smile back!

Cool............. [smile]

Shawn said...

That's the thing about's not mystical at all. It's really just another way of saying cause and effect. Good karma is simply the outcome of good actions and intentions. Sounds like you're more buddhist than you knew!

P.S. - That phone looks totally sweet!

dbackdad said...

"When lady Fortune smiles at you the only thing you can do is smile back!" - How true.

"Sounds like you're more buddhist than you knew!" - I've actually always wanted to getter better acquainted with Buddhism. What's a good starting point?

Shawn said...

I think any of the Dalai Lama's books are a good way to be introduced to some of the ideas. They seem pretty simple when you read them - it's not until you come back to the them later that you find there was a lot more there that you didn't need to know at the time. He also approaches it in a non-religious way and tells you to take whatever works for you and leave the rest. Start with one of his popular books since they're aimed at Western audiences.

There's also a book called 'Buddhism Without Beliefs' that's pretty good, if I remember right. I don't remember who wrote it though.

CyberKitten said...

shawn said: There's also a book called 'Buddhism Without Beliefs' that's pretty good, if I remember right. I don't remember who wrote it though.

It's by Stephen Batchelor.

A good book by the Dalai Lama is: Ancient Wisdom, Modern World.

dbackdad said...

Thanks for the recommendations.