Even though they might seem like the same thing, “Help” and “Service” are not the same thing. It is not at all uncommon for me to be doing one thing when, without provocation, my mind decides to do something else and I am helpless to shift gears until my detour has reached some conclusion (which is what happened to me the other day when someone sent in an email with a quick question asking for some help). While this is something that I have grown accustomed to, it does not come without ramifications – both positive and negative. Since I like to think I am mostly a positive person, I tend to focus on the good that can come out of these moments. Where this blog is concerned, moments like this have resulted in some of my favorite posts – posts that really don’t have a reason to exist other than a collision of disjointed ramblings coming together.
Almost all the posts I write for this site are simply streams of consciousness and the only real work I put into the text is to try and make my dialog as coherent as possible … a monumental task on some days, particularly so since I write in the evening when I am tired, and quite possibly, cranky. Nonetheless, some of my favorite posts were created during these moments. Are you surprised to learn that I have favorite posts? It’s true – and I’ll even confess that there are some that I have reread at least a dozen times simply because they make me laugh (hookers, urinals, and Ye Olde Sconces) and remind me why I started Life of an Architect in the first place … to entertain myself, and if someone gets some help, insight, or guidance along the way, then everything is coming up roses.
I thought about some of the other posts I wrote in the past that entertained me BUT provided some potentially valuable piece of information. Obviously, I think they are all of some sort of value – even the ridiculous ones. I am certain that unless this is your first time on this site, you have probably read a few of these – but have you read them all?
The concept behind the hatchet bedroom is so obvious to me but seems to be something that escapes others. All I can say is that I’m right and they’re wrong. Also, the comment section makes me want to punch some people in the face. Ironically, this is also one of the most referenced posts on my site from new clients.
“The Crummy Pillow Paradigm” is one of those posts that makes perfect sense but explaining how it came to me is inexplicable. However, doesn’t everyone want some pillow talk with me that will change the way they look at their entire life? While that definitely sounds cocky, this is one of a small handful of posts on this site that I am actually proud of writing.
Over 26,000 people read this post the first day I published it. I knew that it would be well-received because a) architects love to commiserate that their life is actually hell and b) misalignment is exactly the sort of thing that drives all architects crazy.
I wrote Master Bathroom Prison Toilets because I was working with some clients who were building an amazing house but told me that they didn’t need the toilet in their Master Bathroom to be in its own room – that they were fine with it being out in the open.
Me: “You mean like the toilets they have in prison cells?”
I ultimately convinced them to at least allow me to create a deep nook that would provide some visual separation but despite my best efforts, I ultimately failed in my attempt and they still have a prison toilet.
This is one of those posts that always gets a lot of engagement because the subject matter I discuss apparently doesn’t seem to be anywhere else on the internet. You would think questions like:
- When you hire an architect, how much does that actually cost?
- What do you get for what you are paying?
- Is it worth paying for just some of these things or do you have to get them all?
I took a call from someone last week and ended up spending about 90 minutes with them on the phone walking through the entire process and answering whatever question they could think to ask or I could think to tell. I didn’t necessarily think that there would be a project in it for me, but if I didn’t answer their questions, who would? In the end, I was rewarded with a pleasant compliment – they told me that I was the 5th architect they had spoken with and the previous 4 combined hadn’t been as helpful as I had been. Not the best business practice but I do think it’s good for the profession.
All of that brought me to this point in the blog post where I get around to saying what I wanted to say at the very beginning of this post. This goes back to one of several emails I receive that ultimately becomes one of those moments that scratches at my consciousness for months, and until I write it down, that itch will remain. Providing “Help”, and providing “Service”, are not the same thing. “Service” is something that is provided at a cost and “Help” is something that is provided for free.
I receive my fair share of emails from people who are looking for guidance on some design-related decisions that they are struggling with – and they are in luck because I am an architectural service provider full of design-related guidance. But when I point out that I do this for a living and the answer to the question they are asking is quite involved, it makes me think that people don’t understand the nuances between the service I provide … and the help I provide. All I ask of you, and I would extend this same courtesy to everyone, is to be conscious of what you are asking of people and whether or not your quick question is simply quick to ask, but not quick to answer.
Do you feel better? because I totally feel better.
Cheers everyone, enjoy your day.