“I’m not your errand monkey”: freelancers

If you work from home, you may have already fallen victim to prejudice.
Namely, that your office-bound friends and family dump errands and the
occasional child on you.

In a Wall Street Journal article (via the Globe and Mail), writer Jeffrey Zaslow speaks with Flordia-based freelancer Diane Fitzpatrick. He writes that Fitzpatrick “finds that parent-teacher associations, church groups and charities zero in on people like her – those who don’t work in an office. “You’re expected to pull the weight of all the people who can’t,” she says. “It’s as if I have to explain what I do all day.”

“Ms. Fitzpatrick, who is 51, recalls that when she was living in Springfield, Va., the schools dismissed students early every Monday afternoon to hold teacher workshops. Ms. Fitzpatrick, one of the few stay-at-home moms in her townhouse community, found herself watching a dozen kids and sometimes more – unpaid – on Monday afternoons.”

Fitzpatrick says that she sometimes feels like the “doormat of the neighbourhood.”

Zaslow writes:

“The pool of people who are at home – because they’re unemployed, retired, have telecommuting jobs, or are stay-at-home caregivers – keeps getting larger. About 35 million people work predominantly from home in the United States, compared with about 20 million in 2000, according to the Telework Coalition, a non-profit advocacy group. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate hovers above 9 per cent, and more than seven million Americans have been out of work at least six months.

“To those who leave their neighbourhoods to work, stay-at-homers look like easy marks for all kinds of requests: car pooling, errand-running, church-volunteering, school-committee-leading, and being the go-to neighbour for every UPS delivery.

“But many of those at home are now saying they’ve had enough, and the Internet is allowing them to mount “just say no” campaigns or to visit online chat rooms to pour out their resentments. They’ve been venting or sharing advice on parenting sites such as momlogic.com and babycenter.com and on sites that help those who work at home, such as EntrepreneursSuccessMindset.com and StuffUnemployedPeopleLike.com. A few people are even embracing doormat tasks – and charging for them.”