Re: Too old?

Subject: Re: Too old?
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 2006 13:07:55 -0800

John Posada wrote:

start answering those calls for work far from home. The tax-time deduction for your mobile office should be gratifying. I've been RV'ing to distant work sites for years.

You HAVE have you?
Not to steal your thunder, John, but Yas, I am facultatively mobile for work. I will travel for work at the drop of a hat.
Two question I've wondered. You are somewhere on the East Coast and
you speak with a propective client several states away. During the
discussion, it comes up that you aren't in the area, but you will be
by the time the gig starts.

It is my experience that being an RV'er gives a person a certain authority about time, space, and distance. And I leverage the hiring manager's usual assumption that I am talking about the work because I want the job and can manage the logistics of getting to the office every day. I try to lead any discussion of the kind by asking "When do you need me to start?" It helps to do the destination RV park research in advance, and make a few calls to check space availability (and rates) first, so you can say "I'm arriving by RV, I have my living arrangements already lined up for the duration of the contract, and I can start wok the first thing next week." Most managers accept this as a "Check" in the little box where they would put an 'X" if you said you you were arriving by Greyhound with your tent, and planned to live in the bushes at your worksite.


- How does he take that. Is he concerned that you'll change your
mind? I know it shouldn't be different than anyone else changing
their mind, but I'd imagine that being on wheels makes you seem even
less stable.

- Is there any concern that you'll pickup in the middle of the night?
If you live there, it's harder to change your residence. Being mobile
involves detaching a few lines and cables and you're off.


I don't believe there is any stigma attached to those of us who travel to work and live on wheels. I have a fixed residence too, so it isn't hard for me to project enthusiasm for staying in one place. In your scenario, I would think you could handle any issues by framing it with a glimpse of your longer-range plans to travel when the contract is finished. You know, like "We'd like to spend next fall exploring Death Valley, but my only firm plans right now are to work as long as the contract continues."
Truly, if members of the mobile workforce were saddled with some stigma of flightiness, then contractors for the big consulting companies would be SOL. I recently worked in Washington state with SAP contractors who fly in from Texas, Connecticut, Alberta,. ... They jet in on Monday and jet out mid-day Friday. THEY often sneak away to catch a Thursday flight home, or a Tuesday flight in to work. Project managers are forever trying to herd them into a standard workweek. But RV-based workers typically bike, bus, or drive to work, just like a local employee.

I suppose some of us slip the moorings and move on before the contract is finished, but like tech writers of the landed gentry, we mobile ones have professional standards and are appreciative of the work. The only difference, really, is that we bring a slight breeze of adventure. Most co-workers are enthused by the idea of RV'ing, and by the knowledge that you found an opportunity with them from afar, and wanted to work there enough to do all the stuff necessary to make it happen. Travelers-to-work may be gypsies by disposition or not (I am, btw), but no one at work has ever expressed any concerns about it to me. Work is work, you take the good with the bad as much as anyone can. I have good references, and that speaks what a hiring manager (even who is suspicious of my lifestyle) needs to hear.

If anything, I imagine a manager might be more considerate of me, knowing that I could go home for lunch, fold the lawnchairs, take in the flamingos, disconnect the phone, water, cable, 30A service, and waste line (the whole process of disconnecting and stowing cables and hoses takes 15 leisurely minutes, max), and be boondocking 100 miles away when I turn in for the night. I've never played that card myself, but it might be on some of my past manager's list of mildly neurotically anticipated problems. I never have seen it, so they're keeping it well hidden, or they don't worry about it. But as for me, you'd need a megaron of force to blast me out of a decent contract. I could and would resign if I wanted to, but that is a remote possibility. I'm hungry, managers sense it, and my mobile office residence reinforces that aspect of my affect. It is neither magic or the kiss of death (KOD), and it certainly doesn't work for every hiring manager. But when my credentials fit a need for a tech writer with specialized skills, the RV is no impediment.


Have you experienced any stability issues in the eyes of the
prospective client?



Because of the RV? Nah. If they express any concerns, I breeze through "The history of my RV," which is that I took a job out of town, found that the cost of living was putting me into the red, bought a third hand RV from a guy who never used it, parked it 8 miles from work, and then I could afford to keep the job because it costs me relatively little to live there. Managers like that story. It shows stick-to-it-iveness. I spent my weekends fixing it up. I'm Steady Eddie, a reliable employee, and handy with tools.

I suppose some managers, when making a hire by phone, aren't as concerned with my backbone as they are with the stigma of trailer trash. RV'ing is not about trailer trash, I guess I could make that clear if I needed to, but it hasn't ever come up.
At any rate, I haven't encountered any negativity about traveling in an RV for work. If I did, I could dispelled it easily, as could you. Jusr assert something positive to counteract it. For example, use your best polite superman voice and say something like "No nagging doubts are necessary, I am as good as there already. You're hiring a professional. See you on Monday, OK?" Problem solved :-)


John Posada
Senior Technical Writer

"I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."
Now be honest with yourself 8?|

Keeping the shiny side up and between the lines,

--Ned
1984 Winnebago Chieftain 30'
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