(Rant #2)

I used to be a photographer's assistant. That means being a sort of jack of all trades and gopher. Once on a location shoot, while taking down some lighting equipment, I chipped a fleck of paint off some woman's front hall wall. I felt really badly about this and offered to come back in my spare time to touch up the damage. It was a spot about the size of my little fingernail and so including drying time and several coats of paint it would have taken around an hour to fix. To my amazement the homeowner said that I couldn't possibly do so because I was a photographer not a painter. I had to bite my tongue to keep from arguing. That was probably seven or eight years ago and it still comes back to rub me the wrong way every now and again.

The idea that we must find a specialist for everything seems to be most prevalent among those who can afford to hire someone to do everything. If I could convince one or two wealthy idiots that I was a professional Fenistrationist (window opener/closer) then it wouldn't be long before they'd believe that they didn't possess the necessary expertise to open or close their own windows and would have to call their Fenistrationist every time the weather changed. I could work on contract or perhaps a retainer with large per incident fees. (My wife, Meggsie, says I'd be a good Fenistrationist.) I suppose first I'd have to have an Environmental Health Consultant explain to them why it would be better for their health (and the health of their dog) to have their windows opened and closed instead of just having an automated climate control system installed or (more likely) to stop using the climate control system the last consulting expert convinced them to have installed.

I guess my point is that, yes, when we can afford the luxury it's great to be able to have someone else do the drudgery or finicky stuff or the bits that take a lot of practice. However we shouldn't loose sight of the fact that we can actually do most of it ourselves if we really need or want to. Robert Heinlein wrote in The Notebook of Lazarus Long that "specialization is for insects". You don't have to be a specialist.

Last Updated on Mon, Apr 13, 2009.

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