SQL Dumbass

Fighting dumbasses, one query at a time…

Gigs, I tell you! Gigs!

I got an email invitation to a Windows Live chat request the other day from a complete stranger, and normally I’d just get out my credit card, but this time they weren’t offering hot chat action or a Viagra sample.  This person said they had a SQL Server project – not a question, but a whole project, and they wanted to chat about it.

I don’t know about you, but when somebody wants to start an instant messenger conversation about a prospective business transaction, I get a bad vibe.  It screams unprofessional.  I gave him the benefit of the doubt and emailed him back.  This blog post sums up the thread, albeit with names changed and humor improved.  Keep in mind that you’re only hearing my side of the story – I’m sure the guy would paint a very different picture.

Me: I’m trying to accept the chat request, but it’s not working.  It might be the firewall where I’m at.  Can you shoot me an email with a summary of what you’re after?

Him: I’d rather chat or talk in person.  When’s a good time to reach you?

Me: Sorry, I’m not in the market right now, so I don’t take calls without at least a rough idea of what’s involved.  Wouldn’t want to waste your time or mine.  Thanks anyway, and have a great weekend!

Him: Large information retrieval database (gigs) in need of performance optimization and a rethink of architecture.

What I Wanted to Say: Gigs?  Like, gigabytes?  Wow.
What I Actually Said: And what’s the salary range?

Him: This is a consulting gig.  I heard you helped out Company X, so I thought you might be interested in this.

What I Wanted To Say: Ah, the standard universally accepted consulting rate, one miiiiiillion dollars?
What I Actually Said: And the rate?

Him: The question is not the rate, the question is value for the money.  I prefer results-oriented arrangements over pay by the hour.  There’s probably a few hours of ramp-up time involved with understanding the situation, research hours to come up with ideas, some hours to try those out, and then some hours to come up with future directions.

What I Wanted to Say: Ah, you want me to sign a fixed-price contract, find your performance bottlenecks, tell you where they are, and then you’ll take those recommendations to RentACoder.com to have some flunkie implement it for $50 without paying me for my time?  No thanks.
What I Actually Said: Thanks for your email, but it doesn’t sound like we’re making progress.  I wish you the best of luck in your search, and have a great weekend.

Him: Why do you keep stressing the rate without inquiring about the challenge?  If you’re so concerned about the rate, name your price and let’s get past it.

What I Wanted To Say: I base my price on the feeling I get from working with people.  I worked with Company X for free because they’re brilliant guys that I was honored to help out, and they summed up their entire problem in less than 140 characters.  You, sir, are causing a simple transaction to drag out interminably, which means this project is going to blow chunks, so I’m going to charge you $250/hour.  I’ve never actually made that much on a contract, but it’s the only way I’m going to be able to stomach working with you.
What I Actually Said: $250/hour.

Him: Okay, so you can take the number of hours you need to deliver and divide that out.  That will be your compensation should you achieve the result.  Work for you?

What I Wanted To Say: The result you wanted was a “rethink of architecture” – there is no way you’re ever going to be done with that as a deliverable.  That’s a scope creep nightmare on a fixed price contract.  Goodbye.
What I Actually Said: No, thanks, how about hourly?

Him: I don’t know you enough to be comfortable paying $250/hour with no end in sight.  Your asking rate is *very* high, so I am asking you to put your money where your mouth is.

What I Wanted To Say: You nailed it when you said “with no end in sight” – that’s how fixed-price contracts work, and that’s what you want.  I’ve played that game before, and the contractor always loses.
What I Actually Said: If that seems high, then we’re probably not a good fit for each other.  You’ll probably get a more appropriate fit from a contractor site like SoloGig.com.  Just FYI, you contacting me saying you’ve heard about the quality of my work from someone else, and then asking me to put my money where my mouth is – that’s a sure way to end a business conversation.

Him: Regretfully, I must agree that I don’t think this will work out.  Maybe it was because I came to you anonymously, but your attitude has been anything but productive.

What I Wanted To Say: Your Hotmail address has your real name in it, your email sig has your real name, and your LinkedIn.com page has your business name on it.  If you think you’re being anonymous, you should be aware that I can’t see the Groucho Marx glasses you’re wearing while you type emails.
What I Actually Said: Agreed – neither of us were getting good vibes.  For what it’s worth, I was happy to help Company X for free.