I Am Pompous And Foolish Because I Wish To Be Paid

December 1, 2015

I have a number of stories to share today about helping others. I was called “pompous and foolish” because I had the gall to ask someone to pay for my time. I’ll get to that story after another short story.

Last week was the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States. So I sat in the office late Wednesday afternoon about ready to start a long weekend. Someone was at the door and I answered. At first glance, it was obvious it was someone who does landscaping. It is not uncommon they come to the door and ask for work. Do you enjoy solicitors at your door?

It started out with “I was just next door doing some work…” and I was waiting for a sales pitch. Then he explained he had extra dirt and would gladly spread it in my driveway for free. I was really grateful and gladly accepted. A few minutes later I went outside and told him that I definitely owed him one and would gladly provide some “computer geek stuff” when he was in need. We had a wonderful conversation and there is no doubt we’ll do business together in the future. Yes, I’ll hire him and he’ll likely hire me (after I repay my debt for his dirt).


Now let’s get back to software. Someone had ask a CorelDRAW related question in a support forum and I had an awesome answer. I even wrote about a free macro in a recent post that did exactly what this person needed. This free macro will save the person an enormous amount of time as well as material being ruined because of extra junk in files. I should also mention that I didn’t create the macro, I simply linked to it in the recent post. I also don’t have a need to use it, so I can’t remember the last time I used it.

This person sent me a personal e-mail (not a reply in the public forum) and told me their age and lack of computer skills and could I please help them with instructions for installing this macro. This person is using CorelDRAW for a business that creates products for sale to others and made no offer to pay for my time. In my response, I explained my time is valuable (as is theirs) and that some Geek Time could be purchased and I would gladly help. That’s when I was called “pompous and foolish”.

I was also told I should do more pro bono work. Strange since this person has no idea what pro bono work I do. I often do things pro bono for deserving organizations (not commercial businesses) and I don’t say a thing about it. For example, a Web site was created for a local service organization at zero cost in the past couple of weeks. I could easily list more things that have been done, but I’m not looking for exposure.

Sadly the entitlement is all too prevalent online. The request for help described above is not an isolated incident. I get similar requests every single day and often more than once a day. It is the rare request that offers payment of any kind.

All help should be free. All non-tangible products should be free. If only I could get the bank to agree my mortgage should be free. My business is helping others with computer and graphics problems and I ask a very reasonable price for my time. If someone feels the price isn’t fair, that’s their choice. Unfortunately I will continue to be pompous and foolish and ask to be paid a reasonable wage for the work I do.

Post Discussion


  1. Loren Barrett

    Obviously the idiot that called you out has no idea who you are. I have been followiny you for years and you have provided a lot of free information and help over the years “Pro Bono”. Sometime I feel guilty that I have not done more than I have in purchasing your products.
    Thanks for all you do. Some of us appreciate it.

  2. Virginia Neuman

    I know this attitude well. As an artist and designer I’ve often dealt with people who act amazed when I ask to be paid for my work: work that has been requested. My husband, a writer, is often asked to work to free ( for the exposure!). I’m just glad when they don’t just steal something, which has happened a few times. I love your posts and wish you all success with the grateful ones.

  3. Frank Olivio

    I have found that people who accuse others are often describing themselves. My perception is that he is the pompous fool. I also provide design services. I never offer free services to those who ask. Rather I prefer helping those who acknowledge my knowledge and ability is of value to them. These folks may need a financial break, but would never assume they deserve one.

    I work with Christian Country musicians. Many have the talent to succeed in the mainstream, but choose to serve. If I could I’d do ask of it for free, but they don’t even ask. Because of that, I often provide work gratis as I can. They are always very appreciative.

    Recently one of my clients have me a brand new Fender Telecaster as a gift. Sweeeet!

    That being said, you have provided a wealth of free information that it’s incredibly valuable. You are the exact opposite of what this person accused you of. I appreciate you my friend.

  4. William G

    Maybe the person had already subscribed to your ad bloated blog, and had different expectations.


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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III built his first Web site in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013. He has used the Divi theme exclusively since 2015. Earlier in his career he was the author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences.

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