I like people and always try to give them the benefit of the doubt as a general rule in my life, but one of the most plaguing annoyances in my current career path has to do with the expectations others hold of my abilities to aid them. I wrote an article a while back about not being taken advantage of as a gear head, but this time I want to talk about the other side of the issue: The Expectation quotient.
Currently, after spending a few years in an entirely different profession, I have come back into my family business of carpentry and am carving a niche of my own in building one-off furniture, like the coffee table above. Much of my time is put into pushing my stuff out in one form of marketing or another and so far things are going pretty well. The problem lies in the assumptions that are made by those who know me - about what I am actually doing with my time. What I mean is that the sort of things I am promoting to build my brand are of a specific personality. I build things off the top of my own head out of mostly salvaged and reclaimed wood and most of my pieces are original and not reproduced. This takes away the efforts and stress of someone saying:
"I want a cabinet that has to be 'XxXxX' dimensions, has four shelves, a particular door profile, and has to be color matched to the rest of my house."
The problem is, I get people asking me for just that type of build and wondering why something "smaller than that table" costs them significantly more than I am asking for said table. Time. That's why. Honestly, my builds start off with a pile of wood, I plane it down, joint it, form a basic idea of what I want to build, and just figure it out as I go along and get it done fairly quickly. With something of a specified size and style, I have to do all sorts of math, figure out dado depths, and if it didn't come out exactly right at the end, well, I am up the creek. Building to a persons specifications just takes much more time.
What does this have to do with cars?
Hang on, I'm getting there.
While I spent my Saturday pulling a few hundred nails out of fifty-three boards of reclaimed cedar I started thinking about how I had been falling into a weird hole of other people's expectations of my abilities long before I started building things out of wood.
Cars - the same thing happened and continues to happen to me with cars.
I immediately thought of a brief comment thread I had with another reader and Travis when he and Matt drove the Audi from Florida a few months ago, hitting some awesome race tracks on the way back to New York:
This sort of thing happens all the time with car guys and I'm sure it happens all over whatever career you happen to be in as well. Sticking with the car theme, however, I can tell you that no amount of studying a track's layout makes a hill of beans difference to your ability to drive it until you actually, you know, drive it. My friends and I built a LeMons car a few years ago and I figured that out very quickly after I was strapped into our car for the first time.
I have found this expectation lingering when it comes to being able to modify a person's car as well. Just because I have swapped the C4 Cruise-o-Matic in my Mustang to a Toploader doesn't mean I want to spend the next four weekends with you in my garage, using my tools, helping you change the stock engine in your 1987 Honda CRX to an H22A. The people who ask for the bigger ticket items tend to be the people who only call when they need something, want something modified/fixed immediately, or are looking for a deal.
Just because I am a carpenter doesn't mean I want to spend a weekend helping you put a roof on your house and then not speak to you for two more years until you need a new deck.
Just because I own the proper tools to go mod-crazy on your Camaro doesn't mean I can afford to spend my weekend letting you use them right away when I have other things to do.
So, as enthusiasts in any regard, what have you all noticed with people holding high expectations of you because you are a car enthusiast? I am genuinely interested to know. At least one of you must have a story or two.
Grace and Peace,