Thursday, January 29, 2015

Volunteering and Selling Chin Cages

Two things I want to talk about.

First, volunteering.  The rescue must be on Lake Central's list of places to volunteer.  Which is awesome, except....that's never panned out to anything.  I can't specify exactly why, but let me share you one experience on the phone from the other day.

Me:  Hello
Her:  Is this the chinchilla rescue?
Me:  Yes
Her:  Ok, I was wondering about volunteering, [tells me about the Lake Central thing], when can my daughter come to volunteer
Me:  Well, it's just me running the rescue, so people can come whenever I'm home.  It changes day to day and by week, but generally after 5 pm on some days, or early in the morning before noon on others.  I work in retail, so there's not a set schedule and every week it's different.
Her:  Oh
Me:  So, if you have a day in mind, I can let you know what time I'll be home
Her:  Well how about this Friday
Me:  This Friday I start work at 1, so I leave the house by noon, so it'd have to be in the morning
Her:  My daughter has school
Me:  That's fine, I'm just letting you know, cause you asked about that day
Her:  So how would I know when she could come?
Me:  Well, I have my schedule on Thursday or Friday, for the following week.  So if you called on Thursday or Friday, I could tell you what days I have off, or what days I would be around at what times
Her:  So I have to call every day then?
Me:  No, what I'm saying is, if you call at the end of the week, I can tell you about any day you want the following week.
Her:  Oh ok so I she could come on a day off.
Me:  Sure
Her:  When are your days off?
Me:  I work in retail, it changes weekly.
Her:  So she could come Sunday?
Me:  Not always, it would depend on the week.  Since I work retail, sometimes I have to work on Sunday.
Her:  Well volunteering at your rescue doesn't seem very practical
Me:  Many nights of the week, I'm home by 5 pm.  That gives a few hours for volunteering, and some days I'm home all day.
Her:  Yes, but not set days
Me:  Even if I had a set schedule, it would be difficult for me to say, as one person, people can come volunteer Tuesdays anytime, Wednesdays after 5, or Thursdays before 12.  Partially, because I don't have anywhere near the volunteers to warrant doing that to my schedule, but also because it would be hard for me to promise that I'd never need to leave during those times, or never have appointments (chin or otherwise) during those times.  I wouldn't want to say, oh these hours I'll be home every week, like clockwork, and then the one week someone decides to stop by, that's the week I say "oh no one's coming," and leave....and then I wouldn't be here.
Her:  It's still not practical.
Me:  I'm sorry, I'm one person, I work during the day, this is the best I can do.
Her:  Ok, well I guess I'll call you when we think we want to come out.  *click*

I can pretty much guarantee you, I won't be hearing from them.

And I get it.  I do.  It would be much easier, even for me, if I could say, ok, on this day, I'll always be home from this time to this time.  On this day, from this time to this time.  But like I told her, if I always said, I'll be home Friday 1-5, few things. 
  1. First, people can barely make their appointment times.  I set an appointment for 1, they show up at 3.  So, nothing would make me think that if I had open hours of appointments, they'd be any better at actually making it before those hours "close."  So, the hours would be pointless.  
  2. Second, I hardly think anyone would show up.  Last year, I can think of about 4 volunteers I had (some came with a buddy, but 4 distinct "volunteers" as in like two sisters, or person who came by, or a mom and her kid).  Four.  So would it be worth me setting aside hours in my days, week after week, for the prospect of people coming by?  Probably not.  
  3. Same goes for buying supplies.  Some people I bring supplies to Crown Point.  Others (if I trust you) I set out on my front porch and people pick it up and leave the money in my mailbox.  Why?  Because for all of the above-mentioned-people, we can't find a time when I'm home that they can come by.  And if you've ever emailed me or called me and asked what my availability is, I make it pretty open to you.  You've likely heard me say, ok Monday after 5, Tuesday before noon, Wednesday all day, Thursday after 5, Friday after 5, Saturday all day....  if people can't find a time to come over, with those sort of options, I hardly think a few hours a day or two a week is going to be good for them
  4. Also, things change.  Even if I had a set work schedule (which I don't), what happens if I pick up someone's shift?  What happens if I'm sick and have to swap shifts with someone?  Should I keep a running list somewhere of when I'll be home just for the purpose of people who might want to stop by?  I could never change my schedule, if I was going to have hours like that....
  5. Which goes along with... I could never leave.  Which is different than, I couldn't schedule things so that I couldn't be home, but even being here, I couldn't leave.  Would have to absolutely spend that time at the rescue as well.  I cannot hear someone knocking on the rescue door if I have headphones on, or if I'm playing with the dogs.  So I would need to be down at the rescue.  Which wouldn't be bad in itself, I could get stuff done, but if a chin got sick, or a dog got sick, or family emergency, or whatever... technically, I couldn't leave.  Cause there's be the thought of, if I do, that would be when someone would show up.  
    1. Which I should note, happens all the time... when people are super late, like an hour or two, and haven't called... like clockwork... the second I get in my vehicle and start backing out the driveway, they show up.  
So, just not practical.

Next subject, stupidity.  I know we go over this all the time.  I know.  But really people.  I had someone email about this one chin, wanting me to take less money for it.  I told them, I can't tell them one way or the other just yet, because there's another person interested (for full money).  But I told em, I could get back to em in a few days.  So they said that's fine, and asked if I had other chins.  So I linked them to my Available Chins page (which I will link here for demonstrative purposes --> Available Chins).  Now, if you go look at that page, the chins are listed.  They all have descriptions, and adoption fees.  So, can you tell me why, when I emailed that link to her (and to many other people in the past), people respond with "I like [name of chin].  What's his/her personality like?  What's his/her adoption fee?"  *boom*  <---head exploding   

Same with the chin at the store.  I make it reeeeeeaaaaaal easy for people there, because I have a cage card on the cage that breaks it down into name, age, sex, color, adoption fee.  If I have one more person that looks at the cage card, and says "oh, Snickers.... female.... chinchilla....standard grey..... 5 years old.... $75 adoption fee....." and then turns to me and says "so how much is her adoption fee?"  *boom*

And I can tell when you're not listening.  Really, I can.  You all may not recognize it, but I can tell.  Cause this is usually how it goes (real life example that's only happened about 4 dozen times):

Them:  So tell me about dust baths
Me:  Well, it's a powder, sort of baby powder consistency.  They roll around in it, like a pig in mud, and it's sort of like a dry shampoo, it pulls the oils from their fur.  They take a dust bath 1-2 times per week.
Them:  Oh ok, so how often do they do it?

*boom*    And usually, if that's part of the conversation, the rest of the conversation is also riddled with examples where I can tell that the person is not paying attention.  Which drives me nuts.  Cause the thing is, I want to help the animals.  I want to find them homes.  I have a reasonable amount of patience for people who need to get their shit together, but even I set limits (7 day hold with no deposit, 30 day hold with, deposit non-refundable).  But the thing is, I don't want my time wasted.  I have so little of it as it is, between work and the rescue, that by the time I've repeated that dust baths are 1-2x per week for the third time, that person is already wearing on my patience.  Cause in the time I've spent repeating that (and likely, everything else that the person's not paying attention to), I could have been returning phone calls, answering emails, writing a blog post..... you get the point.

And I know, people's minds go 100 miles a minute, so it can be hard to stay focused.  A lot of those same people tend to be the ones that get bored with their pets, say "they don't do anything," and return them to the rescue, or bring me their other small animals that they didn't get from here in the first place.  So, not too interested in entertaining those (and aggravating myself).

Next subject, buying things that are mine or aren't for sale.  This spans various things.  I can't count the amount of times people have said, completely seriously, that they want to buy one of my pedigreed chins (namely, Owl, but also Toby and others come to mind).  It doesn't matter that I tell them, they're not for sale, people continue to say, ok yeah, how much.  Now, I have yet for someone to offer me several hundred dollars for one chin, and I suppose if someone said they'd give me a grand for a chin, we might be talking.  But in general.... if it's not for sale, it's not for sale.

This happens even more frequently with cages.  I can't tell you how many times I hear, "well, they're so settled into your cage.... I want to buy it!!"  Believe me, they will settle into yours as well.  I don't know what makes people want to buy my cages so much.  They look nice, I will give you that.  But I can make a cage look nice for them.  But no, they want my cage.  Uh, no.  Today.  Had one of my previous adoptive homes stop by the store the other day, see the chin there.  Asked me about adopting, since they lost everything they had (chin and all) years ago in a house fire.  Called me twice over the last few days, and when I finally got back to them, the question they were dying to ask me was "can we buy the cage in the store."  Short answer?  No. 

I told them, that one  I've fixed up especially for the store with poo guards, more shelves than I'd normally put in a customer cage (cause the customer doesn't want to pay for that many shelves), hammock, tunnel, toys, etc etc.  I told this customer (like I tell em all), I have similar cages.  For this specific customer, I told her, I have a used cage right now, super similar to that cage, around $94.  I also have that exact same cage, new, for $137.  Doesn't look exactly the same inside (the shelves and such), but same exterior look, if they like the way it looks.  So they say, well those cages are only shelves and the cage, right?  Yes, that's how they come.  Cage with shelves.  Anything else is extra.  Well, they like the store cage cause it has all the toys and tunnels and stuff in it.  Now, granted, why they would assume that the cage would come with everything in it, I don't know... but so I tell these people, I can add toys and a similar tunnel to their cage.  Oh, but they want the store one.  F-ing NO.  Just NO.  What is so DIFFICULT ABOUT THAT??

 Now, we didn't get into it about selling the store cage, cause I shut the lady down today, and told her, I'm just not selling it.  I despise making poo guards.  Years ago, I had a cage almost identical to the store cage that I took to expos.  I ended up scrapping it and selling it as a used cage because it was too heavy with all that in it, to lug it to all the expos.  I now use a smaller, lighter cage.  Anyway, the point is, for the store, I literally had to take another new cage off my shelf at home, make shelves, make poo guards.  Basically, re-create the cage I used to have.  And I can't even tell you how frustrating it was, since I'd just sold the 1st version of that cage a few months earlier.  Recreating the wheel.  And I hate poo guards.  Pain in the ass.  So the last thing I'm going to do is put myself in a situation where I have to do it... yet AGAIN.

Anyway, where I was going with that was this -- when I sold that 1st version cage, since it had the poo guards, I sold it for more.  Because if I have to put more effort in, it costs  more.  I had a cage, awhile back.  Small cage, maybe 1/2 - 2/3 the size of my normal one-chin cage.  1/2" bar spacing, I used to use the cage for weaning babies, before I had the runs.  Well, that cage was packed with a lot of stuff.  There were two hammocks, multiple shelves, an attached food bowl, a house, a sort of bridge, etc etc etc.  In all, the cage ended up being about $95 for sale (and it sold), versus a normal cage that size probably would have been around $50-60.  Why?  Because it had all that extra stuff in it.  I took out the toys, but anything functional was left in, and it came with the attached food bowl, and since I didn't want to mess with detaching the water bottle holder (which can be difficult on small-bar-spacing cages), I included a used water bottle.  But... this all made it cost more.  That's just how it goes. 

I have people wanting to buy the decked out FN's all the time.  Even at used costs, they'd be expensive.  Figure, I spent $100-125 to buy them all used.  Since I'm going to have to scrub them down again, I wouldn't be charging any less than that.  Then, I had to buy the metal pans.  $70 shipped gets you two, plus $10 each pan powdercoating.  That's $90 just for the pans.  Since most are in good shape, say I charged 70%, already we'd be at almost $200 for the cage ($188), and that's with nothing in it, other than the FN and the metal powdercoated pan.  Most of those cages have two wheels -- a lot have a chin spin up top and a saucer at the bottom.  $50 each for used, and we're at $288.  Still want that cage?  I can continue.  Most cages have two hammocks in them (one top, one bottom).  At $5 each used, we're at $298.  Lots of the cages also have either the fleece covered pvc tubes, or the wooden tunnels.  Say one of the cages has both (one on top, one bottom).  At $15 each, used, we're now at $328.  Most cages have some sort of house at the top and bottom.  If it's a pet store type house, used would be $5, if it's one of mine, $10 and up.  So let's say the cage has a pet store house up top, my smallest one at the bottom.  Brings total up to $343.  And this isn't counting any shelves.  Let's just say that shelves for one of these cages would cost $50 new.  For shelves, I usually do 60-75% of value, depending on the shape they're in.  Most of my shelves are still in good shape, so $50 worth of shelves would be $37.50, bringing total up to $380.50.  But let's not forget, those shelves all have poo guards!  And for poo guards, if you can somehow get me to do them, they're 12" for $1.  Well, $50 worth of shelves probably has about 210 inches of poo guards (figuring, in this example, a 36" shelf, two 24" shelves, and three 12" shelves), considering each shelf has poo guards on three sides.  210 inches of poo guards, divided by 12 inches, is 17.5 feet.  Aka, $17.50, new.  So, used, figure $13.  For a total of $393.50.  And that's not counting the fleece liners, any food bowls, any extra hammocks that might be in the specific cage, any toys (and if you've seen my rescue cages, you know I go a little crazy with toys)..... and without any of that, just shy of $400.  Still want that cage? 

And one last thing -- I put a lot of effort into my rescue cages.  I used to volunteer at the Calumet Humane Society (pre-rescue days) and I always felt bad that the dogs and cats were just in a barren crate with nothing in there with them.  That's why my cages are so decked out.  I'm happy to try and re-create a cage for you.  But... you're not getting one of mine.  They were expensive to put together (and figure, those costs above... those are for used... I bought just about everything NEW, except for the cages themselves, and the shelves, which I made... so they cost me way more).  And they're mine.  And while I understand the wanting to keep the animal in a cage familiar to them.... I can make you a familiar cage.  My cages are my cages.  No amount of bothering me will get me to sell them to you.  If anything, the more you bug me, the more likely I am to just start ignoring you.  But you want my help with something, I do my best to help.  But please, stop wanting to buy my cages.  Have a little respect.  If I buy your house, I don't say, "well, the car matches so nicely, can you throw that in too?"  Didn't think so.  

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