100 Hours of Humo(u)r – Hour 49: Get Your Finger out of There!

By Dave Fox

100hours-logo1I sometimes receive e-mails from strangers asking for free advice. Within reason, I don’t mind. We all have moments when we’re trying to figure out a starting point to something new and we need help. I’ve  had many people help me on my various paths in life. I’m happy to spare a couple of minutes for a quick question or two. But if you want me to help you, do not ask if you can “pick my brain.” It is not an enticing proposal.

For reasons I have not managed to develop a theory on, that is a favorite phrase in particular among people wanting to break into the travel industry. “I was wondering if I could pick your brain on how to become a tour guide,” they will write, or “Can I pick your brain about becoming a travel writer?”

Of course, they don’t literally want to pick my brain. Also, a few of them do not literally want to work. What a few of the brain pickers want to laze in the sun or hang out at the Louvre and get paid large sums of money for it. They are hoping maybe I can convince the people who pay me for the travel work I do to also shell out some magical cash for them, so that they can (as it is often explained to me), “travel and get paid for it.”

They have fallen for the photos on the “Live the Life of Your Dreams” books showing laptop computers and mojitos on palm tree beaches. These people have not stopped to consider that a laptop on a sunny beach is a futile idea. Have you ever tried to read a laptop screen in bright sunlight?

Nevertheless, when the e-mails arrive, I try to be patient because there are many good people out there too who are willing to do the obligatory hard work and soul-crushing dues-paying. They need to be pointed in the right direction, and I’m happy to offer a couple of minutes to help. As long as they don’t ask to “pick my brain.”

Seriously. Think about what that means, and stop wagging your finger like that.

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Published on Sunday, March 3, 2013

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