How Not to Be a Dick to Your "Freelance" Friends

Hint: "So, what do you do all day?" is not an acceptable ice breaker.
Publish date:
August 22, 2013
how not to be a dick, creatives, don't ask dumb questions

I work from home. Or more accurately, I don't work in an office. None of the mental b-roll starring a 90s career woman roaring in control tops and tennis shoes then punching a clock need apply. That's just not my life. Or at least it hasn't been for the last five years I've spent as a freelance writer.

Before that I was a full-time journalist doing all the regular things full-timers do like shower in the morning and go to the doctor on occasion. Instead, I twerk a living from my couch, creating all sorts of stuff with my big fancy brain.

But here's the thing. I still work. I have a job, albeit a non-traditional one. And this fact is somehow lost on the masses of people who simply cannot compute those who don't commute. Here's a primer on how not to piss these people off when probably all you're trying to do is start a conversation.

1. Don't ask me something dumb like, "So what do you do all day?"

I realize it's hard to fathom how anyone without a fire breathing boss can get stuff done but trust and believe it happens. The fact that I have a non-cardboard box roof over my head, somewhat stylish clothes on my back and mostly delicious food in my belly all sans trust fund (or sugar daddy) means that somebody somewhere is paying me for something. Hence, work. What do I "do all day"? I work. Just like most everyone else over the age of innocence. I don't do cartwheels, growl the theme to "The Golden Girls" in my DMX voice or pick my nose all day. I work. I do stuff that gets me paid. OK, maybe I'll hit the occasional cartwheel, but rest assured I'll write about it after.

2. Don't ask me to do something at 3 in the afternoon and then get pissed off when I say I can't because, well, work.

Once a friend of mine asked me to go to the public pool on a Friday in the middle of the afternoon. To be perfectly honest 9.5 times out of 9.8 times I wouldn't have even bothered to respond to said request. I would've just shown up at the pool with my trashy mags and Fiji bottle full of vodka post haste. Thing is I don't live in a "Gossip Girl" episode -- no matter how hard I try to make xoxo happen -- so every now and then I actually have to be a responsible adult who has deadlines and deadlines and more deadlines. I told my friend this and her response was something so idiotic and condescending I couldn't unfurl my fists of wrath fast enough to text her back. She wrote, "Please, it's not like you have a job."

Do I have to even explain how incredibly inaccurate and overtly superior-sounding that is? No, I don't have a "job job" as in here's the title hanging on my door, but I most certainly have an occupation. I'm not a doctor, lawyer, barista or corporate thug. I'm a freelance writer and that, my friends, is in fact a thing.

3. If I say I'm tired because I've "had a long day" don't laugh.

Here's the thing about working from home with your brain and by yourself, you spend a lot of time thinking -- which sure as heck ain't working on a chain gang but still -- and your mind sometimes wants a time out. When you work solo, there are no cotton candy conversations with co-workers about blah blah blah and no constant "breaks" aside from the potty-variety and no money if you're not producing.

So when I work, I work. And yes, it can be tiring. Also I don't work regular hours. Sure, I don't punch in at 9 am, but I also don't punch out at 5 pm either. Case in point: Right now it's after 5 o'clock and still have a shit ton of things to do so I'll probably be "working" until around 8 pm. Oh, and I also have a house to clean, clothes to fold, dinner to make and a dog to walk -- none of those tasks just disappear when your home doubles as your office. I, like e'erbody else, have to get 'er done.

I had this one friend actually chastise me for being tired once. Like it made her mad that I, as is the case for most humans, get sleepy after a day of looking at stuff. She wanted to hang and when I balked she went all "I mean I just don't believe you're actually tired. You might not wanna go out, but you're not tired for real." What in the? Maybe it's my friends and not my freelance status that need de-dickmatizing.

Either way be kind to your neighborhood "creative" and think before you blurt out, "Sooo are you still like writing or whatever?" next time you see one at a party. Yes, I'm still writing. That's what I do, fool. Are you still lawyering, doctoring, preaching, heading up The Silly Questions Department at your firm? I'm guessing yes.