How my maid, Kailashben, taught me client servicing.
“We want it really simple. No jazz. Keep it clean.”
Her words, as we wrapped up the briefing session. She was organizing an event and had gotten in touch with me for some creatives she wanted to make. For anyone judging me right now, I did it for the money.
And as I closed my notebook while nodding my head to her statement, I recalled the number of people who had used the same line in front of me across the last ten projects that I had taken up. And they use it as a consolation, as if they were trying to tell me that if it looks less busy, I didn’t have to put in enough work. That if it was just type over a solid background, it shouldn’t cost as much, that taglines to brands should come in free with their website content.
Now for those of you who don’t know me, I am not a graphic designer. I am a writer (well, somewhat. I write for money, so I guess it works that way) and have some aesthetic sense which I decide to sell for money(also). And since I work alone without the banner of an ad agency, I am considered more of a fire fighter, someone you reach out to when you want good, cheap, and fast all at once. Which, in a way means that my whole business model is a sham.
And here is why. Over the years, I have had all sorts of people ask for work from me. Some know exactly what they want and how they want it. They have a lot to do themselves and genuinely believe in delegation. I like that kind, that’s the good kind, that’s the kind you want to work for.
But there is the other kind that I hate. The kind who know what they want the outcome to look like, have a very wrong idea of what is going to get them to their goals, and don’t have the tools to do what they have approached me for. Not just as a designer, but I have faced these troubles as a writer, as a marketer, as a manager, and as anything that I have ever done in life.
And today morning, my maid taught me why it happens that way. Here’s how.
Every morning around 0930 hrs, she knocks my door and I let her in to clean. I am either caught up in work or am catching up on YouTube subscriptions so I am invariably on my computer. Now she does a bloody good job at cleaning the rest of the room but the place right under where I am sitting is always left a little dirty, she not at her finest when she does that. And that irritates me.
Well of course I am sitting there, and seeing that I am busy, she doesn’t ask me to move but the dust left under my feet catches onto me, and I mess up the rest of the room if the feet are even slightly wet. And even after knowing that this happens, she never asks me to move. Unlike my colleagues or my father who shamelessly ask me to fuck off when they want to get some real work done.
My maid Kailashben does not lack conviction for her work. She is a single mother who wakes up at 0430 hrs every morning and makes sure she tends to 10 different houses all more than 2500 sq ft. large so her son can peacefully study and become the man he dreams to be.
What we both lack is respect. Not for each other, but for what she does. None of us respect the profession of cleaning floors. None of us consciously dignify it they way we dignify the job of a cop, or a doctor. I let her do it because I consider it a waste of my time and she sure does it for the money. Every morning as she meticulously mops the floors, I could see that she is waiting for a day to come when she wouldn’t have to do this, when she could finally be in pursuit of what makes her happy.
And while I cannot ask her to respect something that I, not only pay a measly sum for, but also don’t look upto as something I should pause my pursuit of Casey Neistat videos for, I can sure expect myself to learn a thing or two from it.
So here’s the deal. To everyone who ever has gone to someone to get some work done. Respect what people do. Give them the space they need to do their work right. Trust them for the beautiful people they are. Respect the idea that they love their profession as much as you do yours, and have faith that they will give their everything to make your dream their own.
Asking someone to do something fast, good, and cheap is like throwing nine mothers at one sperm and hoping for Da Vinci to step out in one month, fully grown, with the last supper in his hand, and a conjoined auctioneer, with flight tickets to Paris, okay maybe now we are stretching it, but you get the point.
Look up to people for what they do. Look up to conviction, look up to dedication, look up to the endless pursuit of greatness that we indulge in and look up to how we all play out little roles in making mankind amazing.
Respect. If not people, the work they do.