My coworker asked me if I, with my superior computer skillz & home software, could do her a "little" favor. Well. You see where this is going, right? The "little" favor is not so little and I need to either come up with a compromise solution, or figure out how to gather the nerve to tell her I won't do it.
My coworker, who is in her early 60s, about 12 years older than me, and probably not particularly computer savvy - she has a smartphone and I think a laptop but I am not honestly sure - asked me last week if I could help her inventory her mother's house. Said mother has recently moved to assisted living and so coworker is packing up the house, moving things to storage, staging the house for sale, etc.
"If you could," she said, "Just put a few pictures into a document along with a description so I could email it to my siblings and cousins, that would be great. You're so much better than I am at those things! It shouldn't take you long." She then said, "Oh, I will help you out with some interior design."
She has a very small interior design business on the side and I had said by way of conversation a few months back that my living room was driving me crazy. We work, by the way, in a bookstore, where we are both full time and our positions, senior staff, are roughly analogous. We get along fine at work but we are not really close friends, although she has in the past made a few sort of attempts that way. I don't feel we have a whole lot in common, so I have politely sort of stymied those. I think she is lonely.
The few pictures turned out to be more than 90. The descriptions turned out to be 14 pages of handwritten notebook paper.
She came over last night with these details and I was so shocked, I couldn't quite figure out what to say. She even said blithely, "Well, I made sure this was legible, but you might have to figure out which description goes to which! I'm not sure of the order." She wants a .pdf and a printed copy.
As she was leaving, I mentioned that I want to paint the living room gray some day when I have some money and time. "I could help you with that," she said, "If you ever get around to it, give me a call."
I am actually really pretty angry about this. I feel like she is using me and it's not okay - and I'm mad with myself for a) ever agreeing to do it and b) not backing out last night when the scope of the job became apparent. But on the other hand, I don't want to be a bitch and maybe I am exaggerating how bad this is?
Before I knew the details, I was planning to make a simple table in Indesign, put the images on one side and the text on the other. My Indesign skills are somewhat rusty, but I started that off and then went, you know, forget this. I'm not doing this for free; this is going to take hours. I then thought, well, I guess I could get all the images onto 10 pages and then email her that - I am NOT going to print it out, toner is not free. But even getting all the images lined up and into a table is a giant pain in the ass. This looks to me like it's going to be about two solid days of work, making the document, getting all the images into it and then typing up every description, not to mention matching the descriptions to the images.
SO okay, I do have an actual question here! My question is threefold.
1: Is there in fact a relatively easy way to do this that won't take about 16 hours of work? I have Word, Excel, CS3 - all the usual software - and rusty but existent skills with each. Is there a way to do this in an hour or two that I'm overlooking? Or is there a way to do some kind of compromise thing, like just get the images neatly into some kind of gridwork she can work from WITHOUT adding the text? How? I don't mind taking an hour or two - just not an entire day.
2: I feel like this is too much of a favor to ask. Am I wrong about that? And I feel like offering to help paint a very small living room is not exactly fair recompense, even if I was inclined to take her up on it, which I am not. Am I wrong?
3. Failing an easier way to do this, would I be justified and an okay person if I took her handwritten document back to her at work tomorrow and said, look, sorry, I didn't realize what a big job this was going to be and this is more than I can handle. And if I do that, how do I manage not to feel like a heel? And, how can I refuse to do it without wrecking our comfortable working relationship? You wouldn't think a bookstore would be rife with drama, but it is and I do not want to add to it.
And, bonus question: What if I suggest that she take the whole thing, by which I mean her phone and her document, to Office Depot or Kinkos? Could they do this for a reasonable price? Is there somewhere else that could do it?