Freebies

Posted: June 18, 2007 in Employment, Homelessness, Money

Since I’m an independent web site designer I don’t have an actual place of business that I go to each morning. I can pretty much work from anywhere.

Right now, because I’m homeless, I have to accept almost any project that if offered to me. And, because most of these projects are smaller projects, I’m not "raking in the dough." But, that doesn’t really matter at this point in time. I’m just happy to be working again.  

As a homeless person who is trying to get out of homelessness however, one of the things I have to contend with at this junction in my life is finding a place to work from.

Most of time I can work from the public library here in San Luis Obispo. On Sunday’s and Monday’s when the library is closed, I have to find somewhere else where I can plug in my laptop. Fortunately there are a couple of places I know of where I can go plug in, drink coffee and work.

Yesterday, being Sunday, the library was closed so I went to my secondary "office." While there, a gentleman came up to me and asked me if I was very good with computers. I told him that I’d been working with them for a while. He then proceeded to tell me about a problem that he was having with his computer at home and did I know how he might fix the problem.

As it turned out the problem he was having wasn’t an uncommon problem, so I took out a spinal notebook that I carry around with me and wrote out a step by step list of things he needed to do in order to fix the problem.

After that I figured that the conversation was over and he would go home and take care of the problem, but it didn’t end there. All of a sudden, there was this "other thing" about his computer that he wanted to ask about.

The second "problem" also wasn’t a major problem, so I wrote out a second list on the reverse side of the page I had already given him. But it didn’t end there. He had another thing he wanted to ask about.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind helping a person out. If they ask a question I know the answer to I’m happy to offer it, but I did have something of my own I was trying to accomplish. And while I don’t fault anyone for asking how to fix this or that problem with their computer, there has to come a cut off point. I couldn’t just sit there all day providing him with solutions.

I finally had to tell this gentleman that I although I was homeless, I was trying to "work" my way out of homelessness. If he wanted to hire me to come over and do service work on his computer, I’d be more than happy to do so, but that it would be only fair to be paid for my work. I also mentioned that I would probably charge a lot less than one of the local "computer tech" companies would.

He told me that he really couldn’t afford to pay anyone for the work and after all he was just trying to get some free advice. In return, I told him that I couldn’t afford to work or give unlimited technical advice for free. He seemed really put out by that.

After he left, I reflected that there are so many people like him – people who are more than willing to get something for nothing. Yet, it’s the homeless who are looked down upon because they "sponge off" of society.

And I thought sadly, how certain actions or requests seem to be perfectly acceptable – providing of course that you’re not homeless.

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