Plumbers tromping through my house with muddy boots (is that mud? after all they are working on the septic tank.) one of them stops at my desk (while I am working) and asks if I will be around friday because they are not done and need to come back.
Will I be home?
"Yes, I will be here. I am here most of the time. I work from home", I reply.
He is a frendly fellow with the stereo-typical plumber-like semi, unkempt appearance. Slightly overweight with a cheerful expression that includes brown eyes that focus in two different directions.
"I hear about people who work from home but have never actually met one," he says to me. It strikes me funny because suddenly I feel like a creature that belongs in a zoo. But I take the comment as intended, appreciating the interest.
He is standing next to my easle with the "seeds" painting still on it. He checks out the painting which primes him for his next question.
"Are you some kind a artist, or somethin?"
Interesting question. I often wonder when someone asks a question like this what they are imagining it to mean. Simply because hollywood has created a charicature of the artist over the years that is high on romance and drama. Typically these characters hang out in galleries or spacious lofts (which most artists would never be able to afford, trust me I know this). You never see them pouring over the bills, or doing the less glamorous things like laundry. If they are not the tormented, self-destructive, genuis type, then they are often the secondary character like the girlfriend who just got a "show" or is working on a "show" or is at the "show" right now with a glass of champagne in her hand. (I have done the show thing and had the champagne and it is highly overated).
"Yes", I am." I say with a tinge of discomfort because even though I am truly proud of my craft, I always think it sounds arrogant to say it (again thank you Hollywood).
He regards me with one of his eyes. "Hmmph. Isn't that somethin", how long ya been doin that?"
Still feeling a bit like a zoo animal, and trying to zero in on single point (and a single eye) that would keep the conversation brief I explain that I started when I was 15 freelancing for an agency that did ads for the yellow pages (real glamour there). I go on to explain that most of my work now involves digital media (whoops, lost him on that one) photography (light went on there) and working with other artists. He looks at my surroundings now like he is seeing it for the first time.
"Wow, that must be kinda hard, not having a boss or nothin."
I am pleasantly suprised by this interpretation because normally when engaged in these conversations the other person typically points out how lucky I am that I can sleep in everyday and do what I want. If they only knew.
But this guy is smart and I appreciate his interpretation. He goes on to ask me about the kind of hours I put in and whether I work late or take days off or whatever. These details somehow intrigue him and I am intrigued that he cares about such details not getting stuck on the hollywood version but really wanting to know how one works from home, as an artist. We continue to chat and I find out he has five kids from age 21 to 2 (gulp). His eighteen year old is pulling out my toilet as we speak. He is chatty, and we continue the chat finding more and more in common, until the time that lapsed weighs in on both of us. Stereotypes on both sides of the bars have been broken down. Time to get back to work.
If I am in a zoo, then he is there too, just in a different cage.