I Didn't Ask For Your Advice
I have a history, and that history involves letting things rub me the wrong way and then sulking about them way longer than I should. I used to have a blog where I would just blast out rants and, honestly, nothing I've done since that blog has ever been as popular as that blog was. At one point I was getting 250k unique hits per month on a regular basis with thousands of page views. I turned being angry into an art.
In recent years, though, I've turned away from that after realizing a long time ago that my health was not going to last if I kept that up. Of course, I got cancer in October, so you can draw whatever conclusions you wish from that, but I digress; I've matured to the point where I don't let things set me off as easily. At the very least I make a conscious effort to head off the explosive anger that used to characterize my interactions with others.
Then something happens like this.
As I write this, it's Wednesday, and this interaction happened yesterday.
Back in January of last year, I bought myself a present. A CNC from Inventables. For many reasons I never got around to assembling it and, when I finally had a weekend to do it, I didn't finish. It's more than I thought I could handle. Recently, I have been batting around the idea of buying a higher-end fully assembled machine so I can be ready to run out of the box. Frankly, kits are not for me. When I buy a machine, I don't want to spend tons of time putting it together and knowing every screw and nut intimately. I want to put it on a table, do some setup, and start using it. The Xcarve is absolutely not that. In fact, it's the literal opposite of that.
The catch for me, particularly right now, is that I don't have an unlimited amount of time in my shop. When I am down there, it's client work and production work for my shop, all of which I'm way behind on since I haven't had any quality time down there since my surgery. I don't have time to sit in front of a pile of parts for a whole weekend to assemble this machine. I have to make money or at least do things that move the needle for me today. With that in mind, I had an idea; I would ask the kind folks on the Xcarve Owners Group if anyone local would like to take this opportunity to get paid to finish putting together my machine. Here's my post as it was written:
Very straightforward. I have the machine in hand. I can't finish putting it together, I made some self-deprecating quips about my ability to do so (even though I may have been unnecessarily hard on myself) and asked for help from people who are interested. I also told people not to bother lecturing me on how good of a learning experience it would be, and so on. I can keep the machine working, I just need someone to get me over the hump of getting all the components out of boxes. Super simple to understand. Care to guess what happened?
This is the internet. I not only got no help, I got expert replies.
Here's the first one:
Assembly is the easy part compared to maintanence and carving anything other then simple shapes
Thanks for that non helpful answer, dude. I replied "I can handle maintenance. Thanks."
It sort of begs the question, If you do not have the time or ability to assemble it, will you have the time and ability to USE it?
Aside from this idiot's complete misuse of the term "begging the question" it's obvious that he doesn't understand how the world works. Is not having the time or ability to assemble something a disqualifier for using it? Because last I checked, my car came pre-assembled and I use it just fine.
I replied: "It doesn’t beg any questions. Using a tool isn’t the same as assembling it. My limited time in my shop is spent right now making things that sell. I don’t have time right now to stop making money to put this machine together.
So yes I can USE it and I’d be able to maintain it just like I maintain my 3 3D printers my laser cutter and all my other tools I just need help putting it together so my time can be spent more effectively on producing actual income.
Thanks for your heartfelt concern though."
Yet again another lecture and non-helpful answer even though I specifically asked people not to bother and was only seeking out people who wanted to help. How is this helping? It's not. It's the usual "Well, I'm going to point out your shortcomings even though I don't have any ability to read or understand your point." Another helpful person, an actual admin in the group replied below this:
The x-carve gen 1 took about 16 hours to assemble. The gen 2, less. If you can't dedicate 2 weekend days split up, you probably won't have time to learn how to use it properly either. Find the time. You'll love it
Oh great. Yeah. I'll just go out to my time tree and find some. Better yet, I'll shelf more projects so that I can do this. It'll only cost me actual money and piss off my clients, but no, you're right. I should find the time just so I can have the joy of putting a machine together. Completely logical. Secondly, the idea that if I don't have the time to do the assembly, I don't have the time to "learn how to use it properly" is so stupid it's beyond my comprehension of the simplistic logic. I have 2 3D printers. Both very good. Both functional. Both of which run like a top whenever I need them. I've spent my fair share of time getting good at using them and designing cool stuff using software most people can't comprehend. It's practically magic when you watch me go now and I"m proud of it.
When I bought these two printers, I was bombarded with people telling me that I needed to buy the kit. Why? So I can learn. Thing is, I don't want to learn how to put the machine together, and on all the 3D printers I've had, I've taken them apart to repair and maintain them multiple times. I didn't have to buy a box of parts and assemble them to understand how to fix them, yet these people would have you believe that unless you sit there for 16 hours and stare at every bag of parts, you can't understand anything, and you can't "use it properly" if you don't assemble it. If "using it properly" takes 16 hours (charitable; probably takes more but just for arguments) then wouldn't my 16 hours of limited time to begin with be better spent learning it and using it than putting it together? I won't even get into the fact that the software I "wouldn't have time to learn" is the same software I use for my 3D printers. But hey what do I know?
This it the thing that bugs me about the whole mess: I didn't ask for opinions on my ability to use the machine, or what kind of person I am for paying to have it assembled. I just asked for a simple thing: help from a person interested in making a few dollars. Why? Because the calculation I made is that my time would be better spent getting comfortable with the machine and making it do things rather than building it. Apparently, however, I'm not allowed to make that calculation for me, and I have to go along with the calculations made by other people even though they know nothing about me, what I'm dealing with, or my business.
Worthy of note is the fact that no one has responded to my initial request for help either, which is somewhat annoying because I almost feel like people have been shamed into not helping me.
I can't even comprehend the level of arrogance that allows you to lecture people on what they're doing in their life when it literally has no impact on yours. What compels people to respond to a post like this that's asking for a specific thing with anything but that specific thing other than a sense that they know better and you, plebe, need to listen to them? Instead of offering to help or connecting me with someone who could, I was told I didn't need the help, and my desire for help meant I wouldn't be able to use the machine "properly." It's ironic to hear such a thing, about using it properly, in a group where almost every post is "I screwed up on the machine I put together how do I fix it?"
Apparently assembly does not automatically impart wisdom. So what's the takeaway for this post? I'm not sure, but I think it would boil down to being confident in your ability to make decisions for yourself and your business. I didn't back down from what I wanted because I was shamed for wanting it. Why? Because that would be the best for me and my business. I don't have to prove anything to two jerks in a forum (even though one of the jerks is an admin) just so I can feel okay with my business decisions and neither do you.
Make the right decision, and don't be afraid to tell people you didn't ask for their opinion on your choices, especially when you didn't. It's your business and since its success or failure depends on your actions and your decisions you don't have to worry about unsolicited advice from people who your decisions have no impact on.
Also, a second takeaway: Just because you can do something doesn't mean it makes financial sense to do it yourself. Sometimes it makes much more sense to hand it off to a person who can do it for you while your time is spent on more valuable and profitable endeavors. Don't be afraid to outsource.
Thanks for reading and don't forget to share this with someone who could benefit from it!