Wednesday, August 27

The Petty Potter

Okay. Um, I think I just found another pet peeve. That's probably not the correct term for this. Here goes.

I get a phone call today. I don't answer the call because I'm a big call screener and I was glazing and didn't want to get sucked into a conversation. So the phone beeps with a message and I check it. On the message is a friend of mine. She says this, and I'll try to quote as verbatim as I can.

"Hi Deb, it's Farrah (not her real name). I was out today and I saw this pottery and had an idea and I thought of you."

(I'm thinking right now that she's about to tell me this nifty little item that she thinks might be good for my work and I'm thinking, oh how sweet of her to call me). Then she goes on.

"I can't really afford to buy these for everyone for Christmas and pay retail and so I thought you could make them for me and we could figure something out and I could pay you a certain amount."

I know I'm a little sensitive sometimes. Things rub me the wrong way easily. But I wonder if I am being too sensitive, or maybe am just not as tolerant of insensitivity towards me and being used as I once was. Ten years ago I would have agreed to work pro-bono making Christmas gifts for her, because I probably would have been concerned of what she might think of me for refusing. Might I seem petty? Or not a team player? Nowadays, I just don't care so much anymore. Why should I strive to be tactful and generous about this? Why do I feel the need to preface this post with "I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it but . . ."

Having said this I want to make this clear. I am not stingy with my work. I am more than happy to share with family and friends. It's just clay that I shaped and I'm happy to give it away-when I want to, and when it's a choice I've made. Granted, a lot of what I give away for free are seconds (or what I view as seconds but they think I'm crazy for not liking), but not always. Come to my house and express a love for a piece, and I'll probably tell you to take it with you. But I don't feel as generous when someone views me as an option to "paying retail".

I still haven't called her back. This could be interesting.

9 comments:

Brian said...

Well, I loved your 'working-working' comeback, so I'm sure you'll do fine.
Depending on my mood, I'd come back with something anywhere from 'I'm booked solid filling my own orders for the holidays'
to
'Sorry, I wouldn't want someone copying my work to undersell me.'
or
'They're already experts with that form. I could copy it, but it'd cost double.'

www.jeffmartinceramics.blogspot.com said...

i have found it good to be honest here...a friend should be okay with "no thanks, i don't want to take that on"...i have had issues with friends wanting friend prices...well, i have a lot of friends! i treat this like a business, and while i give gifts, i also think it completely fair to charge what one's work is worth! good luck with it..ahhh friends;)

Deborah Woods said...

Thanks for your input guys. It has the potential to be a awkward situation. I do want to be tactful, yet honest. I guess the first thing to do is call her back and go from there. Thanks again.

Linda Starr said...

Jeff and Brian have some great advice I'm going to bookmark for things which come up in my garden business. I'm with you Deb, I've been generous but sometimes I feel like my generosity is taken advantage of. Can't wait to hear the outcome.

Judy Shreve said...

I don't do commission work so that's usually my 'pat' answer. My big pet peeve as a woman working at home -- other moms call me to pick their kids up or run errands if they're delayed -- I'm not doing anything am I? I just 'play' in dirt, right? I think I've lost a couple of 'friends' because of it.

ang said...

heheheheh i get ya! i think sincerity and explaining the work processes goes a long way to 'help' peeps get it!

brandon phillips said...

i have more than once had friends ask for dinnerware thinking they would get a sweet deal. then i tell them the price, and sometimes i do give them what to me is a deal. blank stares. they're thinking walmart cheap i'm thinking $20 a plate cheap. i tell them: sorry, i just can't afford to do it for the price that you want. generally they understand. eh, what can you do. good luck.

Ben Stark said...

Good luck with your friend Deb. I would like to say that I take the same approach as Jeff, but I am a pushover for friends and family. I still wouldn't copy someone's work though.

Deborah Woods said...

wow! What a response to this. Thank you to everyone for taking the time to share your opinions. This might be long.

I just want to respond to a couple of things. Lets say she had come to me because she wanted to buy some Christmas gifts, found some things she liked and asked me if I could cut her a break, I would have considered it, but like Brandon, I am afraid once it was discovered that my break was still going to cost a fair price, I might have gotten that stare or a stammer of, I'll think about it.

But instead, like Ben says, she's asking me to copy someone's work so she doesn't have to pay this other potters price. That rubs me wrong.

And like Judy points out, this is basically a commission. We all know that you generally (at least until you get super competent) don't sit down, make 12 cups that someone ordered and like magic, all 12 come out beautifu, mission accomplished. There is the design aspect, trial and error aspect, and many more pieces usually made so enough are successful to complete the order. All this work done for a deal? I don't think so.

Judy, I once kind of lost, a 'kind of friend', when I refused to make her son a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. She asked me, if he doesn't like what you make can you make him a PBJ? I said no. I wouldn't do that for my kids and so that was that. She was not impressed. Oh well.

Thanks again everyone!