The Work Request

So it happened and I wasn’t entirely surprised. I got an email from my workplace back in Janurary asking for some help on something. Which to be honest was the first time they had done that since I left work.  Also I give them credit as it did sound like they did really try to solve the issue themselves but they have run out of options and have to contact me.

I will admit I did have a momentary fantasy of saying no and telling them to piss off just because I can. But in reality I’m not that kind of person and I actually do respect the people I used worked with. So agreed to have a quick look at the issue. The key word in that phrase is a quick look. I’m not putting hours into an issue that really isn’t my problem and I wasn’t really interested in a contact if they asked.

I haven’t thought about my old job all that much and I’m not particularly in the market to start doing it again. I spent my kids’ Christmas vacation being ‘off’ the entire time and not working on much of anything and very much enjoyed that feeling.

So I compromised on their request. I set a timer for an hour and opened up the email and examined the files and reviewed their questions. Of course with a set time limit I could not do a detailed review but rather I provided some general advice on items to consider and where to find more information. I checked the timer at the end and still had four minutes left when I hit send on the email.

Unsurprisingly they came back with follow up questions to which I replied that I would not be answering as I only addressed the first questions as a personal favour for my old boss who I admire. Then perhaps against my better judgment I included an offer if you absolutely need me I would be willing to come in to consult for a very short contract. I crossed referenced a site I knew with suggested consulting rates. I set a rate and then suggested we cap the entire contract to a mere 25 hours. I don’t want to be there for long and I don’t particularly want this to drag out either. I have other items I need to be working on.

Then it occurred to me how would I feel about going back for even a short time and the response in my head was clear: I would feel ill. I never really like the office environment all that much and don’t really want to go back but if you pay me a boatload of cash I would be willing to do it for short period of time.

In the end it worked out fine. They never did come back to me asking for a contract or any more help. They obviously decided to deal with it on their own which makes sense. Using me would me just put off them having to figure out how to do it on their own anyway.

So how would you handle someone asking you to help out at your old workplace after you retired?

5 thoughts on “The Work Request”

  1. A former coworker of mine but still a friend calls me from time to time to talk about things. Once in a while he has a work-related question which I will try to answer but it goes no further than that.

    However, the last time he called me, about a month ago, he was told to offer me a chance to do some work, only from home (I was skeptical about that part), and get paid for it. I immediately turned him down, stating I was NOT interested.

    The short answer: “Just Say No!”

  2. I’m on a retainer from my old employer for two types of consulting and have done two other types on a by the hour fee basis. It never makes sense to burn bridges when you leave. One weekend a couple of months ago I made $6700 in two days fixing some problems for them. It saved them six figures so it was a win win.

  3. I think the real answer here is how you felt about the way you were treated you at your job before you moved on. If you worked at your job for years, enjoyed it and felt all the people around you treated you well, would it be so bad to give short helpful advice within reason? Look at this as giving validity to your role there and that you”made a difference”.

    I think for unsatisfying corporate jobs that seem to burn you out and use you for all you can give, then unceremoniously spit you out, sure don’t even reply….

  4. @Paul N – Yes I do think you hit it on the head. How you were treated will change your reaction to the request. I didn’t feel either extreme myself. I was frustrated when I left but mainly due to the political over taking the rational decisions.

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