Home Advantage

By Bill Harper

If you’re a seasoned freelancer, then you’ll have discovered the real benefit of working from home: being able to act like a complete slob while you’re writing.

Sure, you tell everyone else about the flexible hours, being your own boss, and not having to drive to work every day. But let’s face it: the best thing about the job is being able to sit at the computer in your underwear, eating ice-cream straight from the tub, and watching your dirty clothes crawl to the washing machine in a desperate attempt to get washed.

Trouble is, once you’ve been doing it for a while you start to think it’s perfectly normal behavior (what psychologists call “Not having a life”). Which is fine, until a client wants to meet you to talk about a possible assignment.

Suddenly your mind is filled with questions. “What do they want me to write about?” “How much are they paying?” “Where did I put my pants?”

Fortunately, you may find just the answer you’re looking for in this list of Frequently Amusing Questions. (Then again, you might not.)

Let’s start with the most obvious question (especially from where I’m standing):

Q. Is what I’m wearing important?

A. Yes, because in today’s business world clothes do more than just cover up your rude bits. They tell the world where you fit in the social structure (or, in your case, if you fit).

Q. So should I wear a suit and tie?

A. Not necessarily. What you’re trying to do is wear clothes of the same “rank” as your client so they feel as if you’re on their level. So you should either:

  • look at what they’re wearing through the peephole, yell out “Just a minute,” and quickly change into something similar, or
  • answer the door in your underwear and ask them to strip down to theirs.

Q. Should I offer them drinks?

A. Hey, why not? Maybe they enjoy a drink first thing in the morning too, although they’re probably used to it being poured from a bottle rather than a cask.

Q. I meant coffee.

A. Oh. Of course. Yes, a cup of coffee would probably be a good way to break the ice. Just remember to have a fresh carton of milk in the fridge. (The phrase “one lump or two?” is meant for the sugar.)

Q. What should I have in my office?

A. Apart from obvious things like a desk and a filing cabinet, there’s no hard and fast rule as to what should be in there. But here’s a table to get you started:

GOOD BAD
Published clips Toenail clippings
Pulitzer Prize Death threats
Your latest book The latest copy of Penthouse

Q. Not even if Penthouse published my article?

A. No one reads the articles.

Well, I’m afraid that’s all the advice I’ve got time for. I’ve got a client coming soon, which means I’ve got just enough time to get dressed before he arrives.

Assuming I can find some clean underwear.

Bill Harper is a mild-mannered public servant by day, and a very stroppy one by night (public transport does that to you). But when he’s not sitting in meetings (and quite often when he is), he’s thinking of something funny to write about for the next edition of Bill-Bored, his weekly humour column.

Check it out at Bill Harper’s humourwriter.com. “Because life’s too stupid to take seriously.”