Last Tuesday, we drove back home from a lovely 3-day mini vacation in the Berkshires. We rushed home as I had to be back in time to take my son to the dentist.
It is hard to take vacations when you operate a business that is pretty much 24-7, but I’m learning. As a hosting provider, I owe it to my clients to be there if anything goes wrong with their website. That being said, it doesn’t mean my clients own me, or that I do not have a right to time off and privacy.
I returned from said dentist appointment to find my husband simply livid about an encounter he had with one of my customers while I was out.
After getting no answer at the office door, the customer went to knock on my home door, which is located at the back of the building. My husband related to me that, while my son opened the door and asked said customer to wait at the door while he got his father, the client simply let himself in and walked all through the house, ending in front of my bedroom, behind my son, as my husband came out barefooted and shirtless–he was resting from the long 5 hour drive home.
Hubby asked client if he didn’t notice that this was a private home. Customer deflected, and proceeded to interrogate him as to my whereabouts.
-“She’s at the dentist,” John said, (not that it was any of the client’s business!) “This is a private home, can’t you see that? Didn’t you realize that when you walked through the messy kitchen?”
We had just got back from leaving the house in the hands of 2 teenagers; you can imagine what it looked like.
-“But she’s not answering my calls and I’ve emailed her,” the client said.
-“We were away! Maybe that’s why? Look, this is the office space, this here, is clearly our home…”
This went on for a few minutes. The client eventually left, frustrated. My husband was left feeling even more frustrated and wondering if this is a common Canadian thing since this has happened before and seems to be a reoccurring issue. I did find out that while I had answered his emails (but not his calls as I was in the US), my responses were bouncing back. I had stipulated that I was taking a couple of days off and was ready to meet with him on Thursday. He didn’t get that. That is ok, I understand his frustration… I’d be frustrated too if I felt like I was being ignored. However, that does not give him the right to barge into my home and violate my private space as if he owned me.
I will be the first to admit that I don’t do well with phone calls. Blame it on all my years as a phone customer service rep. I much prefer email. It’s not as invasive, and at least, there is always a record on file of what’s being asked for and done. I usually answer emails right away. I’m pretty much always available either from my phone or laptop. In order to serve my clients as well as they should be, I never completely disconnect, even while on vacation.
But I can’t help it if my emails don’t reach a client’s server because of an issue at their end. I have no control over that. I try to be accessible. I’m a 2 person operation and my clients know that when they sign up with me. I only have two hands, and 24 hours in a day. I serve people in the order in which I receive request. Clients expecting me to be at their disposal immediately, all the time, may be a tad bit unrealistic.
In Cornwall more than anywhere it seems, humans will occasionally tend to lose sight of boundaries, maybe even exhibit a complete lack of respect without even being aware of their behavior. Moreover, Controls on civilian use of firearms probably have an effect on culture differently than the right to bear arms does in the States. In Canada, you feel safe. Free. Feeling that safe and that free, I guess it’s easy to lose sight of boundaries.
So with that in mind, I’m setting up new office hours. My office at 327 2nd Street, will be opened to walk-ins Mondays and Tuesdays from 10am to 5pm. Any other day will be by appointment only. Oh, and there is new signage on the door of my home: NO TRESPASSING…
Much of the time, the things we feel guilty about are not our issues. Another person behaves inappropriately or in some way violates our boundaries. We challenge the behavior, and the person gets angry and defensive. Then we feel guilty.