I sat down with a friend last week for lunch where we discussed all manners of things in the writerly world. At one point, he asked me what I could do for him. I had invited him to lunch and am pretty sure he was shocked when I said “nothing.” You see, sometimes lunch is just lunch.
In this world of blogging, freelance writing, social media, etc., we’re inundated with requests to “grab a cup of coffee” or “let’s have lunch and catch up.” A great deal of the time it turns into “We’re going to meet for this coffee/lunch and I’m going to drill you with questions for two hours.” We will call it the “pick your brain” scenario and it is an awkward position to be in.
This happens all too often. So often that I rarely go into town to avoid this type of ask. When I am in town, I don’t let people know as I just want to get whatever is on my to-do list taken care of. If I do meet people, it’s like-minded souls who like me for me and not what I can do for them.
When did lunch stop being lunch?
There are many of us working in the collaborative community who need support and companionship. And there are times we need the advice of those people when we are up against road blocks. Like many others, I work time into my schedule to mentor people. But when running a small business there are days you ask, “What will be better for me, dinner or a shower?”
How do I help? I provide resources and offer 10 minutes on the phone. I will offer to meet with people, but I’m usually booked two months in advance. Depending on the request, I respond with “I consult on this and my rates are xxx” which has been met with swear words and blocking on social media.
How do I handle requests? I have set rules, which includes an exempt list. If you’re on the list, I’ll sit down with you any time of the day, no matter what I’m doing and will talk to you.
Rules are unique to each person and their situation. Mine are for my sanity. I only have so many hours at this point I can set aside, and it has been my saving grace. If I didn’t I wouldn’t be sleeping and no one wants to see me when I’m short on sleep.
In this “always on” world, it’s nice to sit back and have lunch with a friend and there be no expectations.