Because I almost always work in a private home or a commercial space under construction, I seldom have an "audience" when I work. Every once in a while though, I find myself working in one of these apartment complexes where there are actually residents living there. Such was the case this week. I am always taken aback when the residents will stand and stare at what I am doing and openly comment negatively to another resident. They carry on, bad mouthing the work I am doing, as if I am totally invisible! If they do not address me directly, I just keep working and act as if they are the invisible ones. If I am wearing headphones, I just crank up my music. Many people feel quite violated when changes occur in the common areas of their apartment buildings. The upside to working so publicly is the positive feedback. Thankfully, that outweighs the negativity. It’s fun when people stop and ask questions, express their delight in the new changes, or just greet me pleasantly!
A few years ago I did some work in the lobbies of several Senior Apartment Complexes. On day 1 in each building, I would be greeted with a lot of scowls and little conversation by the residents. On day 2, a little softening. On day 3, I had the cast of characters and their various routines down. I discovered that many of the Seniors were watching me on their TV’s which, when tuned into a certain channel, showed them the view from the Lobby cameras! I only discovered this because one spry woman asked me if I could move the camera as I worked. Another asked if I could point the camera at the mailboxes so she would know when the mailman arrived. Again, I felt the residents felt violated by my presence and the change I was making to their living environment at first. They clearly did not welcome this change! But, as they got to know me, they became excited about the work I was doing and having someone new to talk to each day. As I got to know many of the residents more, I learned so much about their daily lives, hobbies and families. It was one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had to date. By the end of the week, the Seniors were very friendly and several of them were bringing me treats and water! This pattern was repeated with each Apartment Building and Complex that I did.