As the internet lives and breathes and expands and contracts and mostly expands again, and lots of people have Chile on the brain, what with the giant earthquake, World Cup and then the miners, and the tiny piece of the web I’ve carved out for myself with blogging and writing for other outlets and generalized loud-mouthedness, I get more than a smattering of “heys” from around the place.
Some are from people that I’ve talked with for months or years, travelers that want to come and check out Santiago, or people who want to talk to me about blogging, or new business ventures in Chile or other generalized stuff. Sometimes it works out and we grab a coffee or run around the city at breakneck speed stopping for tasty treats and photo ops. It’s kind of a fun way for me to travel without ever really going anywhere, which, though it may not appear that way from the outside, is what it feels like alot of the time).
And sometimes I get strange inquiries, like from the NY Post looking for stringers in Chile. Now that’s a strange fit. I used to like the NY Post when I was a kid, but that’s because it had the comics in it, and the NYTimes (paper of choice) only had political cartoons.
And then sometimes it’s reporters. Or documentarians. Or people who just want to know how to get to Chile from Argentina (this is a strange request, as there are scads of websites giving out that info, and why you’d think I’m a better resource than them is beyond me).
I recently got a request from a reporter from a major news outlet to give her just a touch of information about:
cool places in Santiago
hip bars in Santiago
things most tourists wouldn’t do in Santiago
expats living in cool homes in Santiago
There was no offer of a coffee, no “hey, let’s get to know each other” just a generalized, “you, do my job for me.” Really? Do your job for you? Well that seems fair. I’ll do your job for you, and you can do mine for me. I’ll leave my computer on and ready with the several places I work for’s info on a long sheet of paper written in blue felt-tip pen, and lend you my brain, and you can just run along and be me. And me? I’ll be me, too. That seems fair.
I wrote back a very polite note saying I didn’t think I’d be able to help, holding my tongue about how truly annoyed I was by this reporter’s patudez (freshness, and not in that morning mist kind of a way.
Then just yesterday I got a message from a documentarian who explained the project he’s working on, and wondering if I could put him in contact with people that might be interviewed about something he’s interested in (sorry for vagueness, will come back with more info as the project develops and I’m told I can put it out there). It was a paragraph or so long, had a sweet halago (compliment/flattery) about the blog and my wordsmithing, and was just generally on point.
See the difference? Get to know me, treat me like a human and not a fact-spewing machine, and have a project that’s about communication or Chile or something else that has something to do with me, be polite and correcto and don’t ask me to do your job, and you get results.
Julie recently wrote on her blog of writerly wisdom, Cuaderno Inédito about reciprocity re: asking for writing advice. It’s terribly on point, and worth a read even you don’t write for a living (or aspire to). It’s about being connected, never asking for more than you can give (maybe to someone else), and about not asking other people to do your work for you. Words to live by.