Friday, January 11, 2008

Givers and Takers

I was visiting with my barber the other day.

I like my barber. So I try to give him business whenever I can. I promote him to my other friends and acquaintances and I usually give him a tip and sometimes a Christmas present. And he reciprocates. When I needed help with Dad he came to the house for me. I paid him but what he did for us you couldn't have hired.

That's the way I am about people I like and count as my friends. I try to give them my own business. Not because I expect something in return but because I like to deal with friends and I'm loyal. Once my barber's daughter needed a car and I had just bought a new one for myself. So I gave his daughter a good deal on my old car. I could have made a little bit more but really I was happier to receive the satisfaction and pleasure of knowing I'd helped my friend's daughter than to earn a little more money. My barber is like I am.

But he was telling about someone that he knows that is not like that and he has known this person far longer than he and I have been friends. This person always tries to get a better deal for himself. If he can't get a better deal then he goes somewhere else. In the same vein he told me about a relative that visited over Christmas and brought her two young adult daughters. My friend and his wife gave the three of them a full salon treatment lasting many hours each. He said they didn't even get so much as a thank you.

I know people like that. Several, I'm afraid. I cringe when I see their numbers appear on my cell phone because I know they want something. I know that because that's the only time they call me.

Oh, they're polite enough. They ask about me and my family and so on for a few seconds. Sometimes I have time to answer. A little foreplay you know. They build up to the climax. Some of them are quite good. After the preliminaries there is a story about some disaster d'jour. And after that it is the application of how this is going to hurt them or their family. And all the things they've tried that didn't work. And then I'm the last hope and there is no one else to turn to and can they please borrow some money. Except they don't really intend to pay it back so we both know "borrow" isn't really the right word. I am going to call them takers.

I was thinking about how to conclude this as I was writing.

I decided two things.

The first is that I don't want to be in the "taker" category. I don't want my friends to cringe when I call them.

The second is that I am not going to be upset about my taker friends. Dad used to say that when you loaned money or anything to friends and relatives that you should expect it to be a gift and treat it that way. Because the relationship is always more important than the thing. So I'm going to try to do that.

Forgiveness is a virtue that requires much practice.


steflovesnonna said...

Thank you for this post. Your speaking about something that touches a point in my life right now. A friend of mine is having some troubles and well I am as Loyal as a dog would be to her. I love my friends including you and I would do anything for them. I don't expect anything in return but often they do return favors with more kindness. Thanks for being a good friend as well. OH and don't worry about blogging time, mine is limited as well. We both know we are here to stay even if we cant get to reading our blogs every day. Just take care of my friend Terry.

nancy said...

what a wise man your father was and the lesson he taught you about helping others. unfortunately, i agree, there are definitely "takers" out there.

and don't worry, i could never consider you a "taker." feel free to call me anytime you need something my friend.

Katmir said...

there's got to be a 12-step program for those of us who simply cannot help but help..... losing the cringe is probably somewhere between step 11 and 12.... yup, much practice-- indeed!!

Joanne D. Kiggins said...

In the past I've met more takers than givers. I will say that I've met some very wonderful givers here online in our caregiver friends, and you, my friend, are a giver. Thank you, for being you. ((hugs))

Lori1955 said...

Very interesting subject. I can't imagine that anyone would ever think of you as a taker so I think you're safe there. I would be devastated if anyone ever thought of me that way.

As for loaning money. That is something I don't do. I get angry if I loan money and then see my "friend" run off to Vegas and tell me that don't have the money to pay me back. Your Dad's advice is good. I'm just not there yet.

~Betsy said...

Your dad was a wise man.

Many years ago I borrowed a few hundred dollars from my brother to buy Nikki a horse. I had $3,000 saved and the price for the mare was $3,200. Some would say the horse wasn't a necessity if I didn't have enough to cover the selling price. Perhaps. But the end result of my daughter having the responsibility of that horse and my ability to take it away if she screwed up was priceless to me. She wanted that horse big time and she proved it through her actions.

It took me a couple more months than I intended, but I paid my brother back every penny. My own father taught me that lesson - you pay back what you owe, and then some.

Great post, Terry.

*(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

I got lucky that I don't have any taker friends, at least none that I know of.

You and your dad are very wise fellows. Thank you for sharing your dad's, and your wisdom with us.

Cinnamin said...

Wow! Your Dad's advise was RIGHT ON! I have known many takers, and I too cringe, waiting for the "how are you, how are things, how is..." and always waiting, without disappointment for the pitch..."Can you (do this/loan me/go here) for me".

"Forgiveness is a virtue that requires much practice." I am blown away by that! I guess I'm still practicing too!