Friday, December 22, 2006

Uncommon courtesy

Since courtesy doesn't appear to be common anymore, "Uncommon courtesty" is a more accurate title of this entry. There's all too little uncommon courtesy out in the business world these days.

If you go to any usenet board discussing sports, film, whatever, you'll find that rudeness is the order of the day. There's always at least one person on any board who likes to stir up trouble, and there are always a few others who will respond to newbie questions with sarcasm, etc. etc. People like to put other people down in order to puff themselves up.

And that's annoying, not so much that they're rude as that it heightens one's curiosity - are they as big-mouthed in their private lives as they are in the anonymity of cyberspace? I'd really like to know!

Anyway, my tale today is of two people, both of whom are just starting out in their careers, both of whom have just lost any chance of employment from me.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to find an artist to draw illustrations for a young adult book I'm writing. So I placed an ad in Craig's List, in the one for my local area.

I got one response with samples enclosed, from an artist who did good work but not in the way I liked. His work was more of a "hang on the wall" static, variety. So I said thanks but no thanks.

Then I got an email out of the blue from someone who was just the epitome of a conceited young man. (The kind who thinks he knows it all and can do it better than anyone else in his field, despite the fact that others have 30 years experience and he's just out of college -- I've seen them several times in my various places of employment.)

Anyway, I had offered $10 per illustration, and wanted 10 illustrations, of which 5 would illustrate action from the book, and the others would be simple generic drawings like fish or shells. And I specified I wanted line drawings. Not too time consuming, I thought. I'd seen caricaturists in malls draw people in five minutes, for that price, so I assumed it'd be a good 'entry-level' wage.

This guy didn't see it that way. "Takes 2-4 hours to do a decent illustration, and you want 10, that's not even minimum wage."

Now, if he had said just that, and that alone, I would have emailed him back and said, "Okay, I hadn't realized. Send me some samples and tell me what you'd like per each, and let's discuss it."

But that's not what he did. His entire message to me was redolent of sarcasm, as he accused me of trying to get something for nothing, and told me I should "dip a finger in some lampblack, draw as best I could, and tell my readers it was abstract art."

And I'm looking at this message and feeling kind of shocked. If the rate of pay isn't up to snuff for you, just laugh, shake your head, and move on. But this guy chose to contact me and bawl me out, and so I'm the one shaking the head.

So I emailed him back and said, "Hey, thanks for educating me, I hadn't realized. Had you done so in a professional manner, we could have discussed it and you might be looking at a job right now. But since you chose to be a smartass about it, you're not getting this job, you're not getting any jobs from me in the future, and you won't be getting any jobs from my friends whom I could have steered your way."

And, heck, potentially that could have added up to ("added up" being the operative phrase) some big bucks for this guy. I have several websites to which I'd like to add illustrations, and if I'd liked this guy's work he could have had those jobs. I know other people with websites, or who want books published and need illustrations, and he could have had *those* jobs.

But because he just *had* to put down a total stranger and exercise his cleverness and wit, he lost out on it all.

Then I got another response, from a young woman this time, who didn't have a problem with the $10 per illustration. But, the samples she sent me were of murals, not of actual illustratiuve art. So I sent her an example of a woman diver - who looked the way I wanted this woman's stuff to look, and said, hey, this is a test, redraw this for me very quickly (because I didn't want her to have to spend a lot of time on it).

And she misunderstood what I wanted, and thought I was going to send her clipart for her to redraw, and she thought she'd be cheating if she did that.

And, if she had voiced this concern in a professional manner, I could have said, "No, you misunderstood, it was just a test."

But she didn't. She went all ballistic and sarcastic on me, and I'm reading her illiterate rant and just throwing up my hands thinking, "Is no one teaching these kids manners or common courtesy or how to communicate in a professional manner any more?"

These kids have been watching too much American Idol, or sitcoms in which the people sit around exchanging verbal abuse, and think that they can get away with it in real life as well.

So, anyway, I emailed the woman back and said "Good luck in your future career."

The ad has another two weeks to run. I wonder who will email me next?

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