There’s a knock on the door and from my chair in my office I can see it’s a man in a nice suit with the tie slightly loosened. He doesn’t have any brief case with him; he’s not holding any religious literature, nor a badge and arrest warrant for someone who he’s looking for at the wrong address. I have no idea who he is or what he’s here for, I’m at a loss because I don’t recognize him nor do I have any appointments today.
I answer the door and he introduces himself by saying, “Hi, I’m John from the investment brokerage that just opened up a branch office here in your town. I know all about you and your business and I would love to talk to you about some exciting opportunities…”
As I’m standing there, my back is to the wall where I have a piece of paper from the State of New Hampshire signifying that I am registered as a “DBA” which means I am technically a ‘business.’ “That’s great! What’s my name and what’s my business?”
He looked shocked for a moment? “What’s your name?”
“Yea, how did you find out about me? How did you know that I was running a business out of here? Did one of my happy clients refer you to me?”
“Uh, I…” he began to stammer. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“John, you said that you know all about me and my business. I would love to find out how you heard about me.”
“Well, for starters I have a great way to grow your capitol and help you invest in some better tools in the future…” he said, trying to change the subject.
“John, come back when you actually know who I am and what I do so you have a better idea of what you’re talking about,” I said, cutting him off by closing the door.
On another occasion, the doorbell rings at 11:30AM the way it should have. I answer the door and there’s this guy there who looks like my usual type of client and I invite him in. He begins his routine about his faith and how his religion is the only true religion while the world is going to hell in a hand basket while I’m picking apart his pamphlet apart visually and how this violates a lot of design rules such as contrast and typography.
It takes all of two minutes to realize there’s a mix up – he’s not there for my business… he’s there for my soul! This isn’t my 11:30AM appointment… who just pulled in the driveway and is now blocking this guy in. Talk about uncomfortable.
Before I vent any further, let me say once and for all I don’t have a problem with other people’s religion. I have no beef with Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Buddhists, or Atheists. Whatever gives you comfort in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm or times of tragedy; fine. Who am I to say you’re beliefs are right or wrong? By no means am I trying to criticize anyone’s religion.
I also don’t have problems with people who make a living on the road either by making sales calls or deliveries. Whatever it is that you have to do to make a buck that’s neither illegal nor immoral is fine so long as you don’t make it my issue.
This is exactly where I’m going with this rant; when other people’s issues find their way to my front door. I have a problem with people who knock on the door during regular working hours and insist that I deal with them.
What a lot of these people don’t seem to understand that as a freelance graphic designer there are days when my time at home is not my own. If it’s between 6AM and 7PM (why, yes! That is 11 hours) and I’m sitting at my desk there’s a good chance I’m either doing work for a client or for a class I’m taking. This person knocking on my door to give me the latest issue of their religious publication, solicit me for an investment opportunity, trying to unload a truckload of frozen meat they stole, Girl Scout cookies, isn’t just stealing my time but they are also stealing from my clients.
It’s no different than if you went to someone’s work place, got thought the receptionist before literally walking up to someone’s desk and started with a ‘cold call’ sales pitch for whatever they’re offering. Imagine if I went into someone’s church during a service and started handing out my business card while asking “need some new logos? How about a website? I know both WordPress and Blogger! Stationary – I can do that for you, too.”
Does this mean that I only want these people to come knock on my door when I’m not working like on the weekends? The only time I really have with my wife and kids is on the weekends and vacations. It’s the only time I have that I can actually feel free enough to walk away from my desk and actually do something physical outside, or create something that isn’t graphic design.
In short, there’s never a good time for strangers to knock on my door. My driveway is not a thoroughfare to low hanging fruit. As a graphic designer I’m not sitting here for desperate attention from just anyone – silence and privacy is what I need most of all and if I can’t get it here than what’s the point. For a graphic designer, being alone does not translate to ‘being lonely.’ (In fact, I have all the critical voices in my head to keep me company…)
As a result, I have created a new sign to put on my door during business hours – “Forget The Dog! BEWARE OF THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER!” and my hourly rates; knock on my door and you’ll be charged $150 for the entire hour. I’ll let you know how well it works.