Sunday, July 12, 2015

Favors and Promises

Sometimes I Wonder

If I tell someone I will do something, I rarely go back on my word. The only exceptions would be a dire emergency I had not anticipated.  I wish things worked both ways.

This is typical of what seems to keep happening to me when I get into the "Sure, I'll do you a favor" situations.

A good friend needed a special piece of farm equipment for an art project.  I had an antique harrow stashed away somewhere. When I mentioned it, my friend said it sounded great. So I hunted around for about a half hour looking for it, and finally discovered it tucked away behind the garage where my tree trimmer had put it.  I pulled it out. The wheels were rusted, so I got some grease, greased them and got it rolling. Then I took a series of pictures of it and sent them to my friend. She was delighted, it seemed. The harrow would be perfect.

Flower Wheelbarrow Clip ArtDays passed, weeks passed. Events in my friend's life took up her time, but she kept telling me she'd be out to use the harrow. It's been sitting in my hay barn for all that time, in the way, just waiting for her. Today, I mentioned it again, knowing that things had settled back down in her life.  She told me she was thinking of using my barn as the subject instead and "That old cart or wheelbarrow I saw there when I visited you."

All the "harrowquest" was for naught.

Case #2.  I got a panicked call from another friend. Did I have a cage to hold a cat for a few days? A stray at her barn had scratched her and she wanted to contact animal control to take care of it....this was on a weekend. Sure, I had a cage. She'd need to put it together as it was one of those collapsible ones.  No problem. She'd be by the next morning to get it.

I dug the cage out of the garage--I store lots of things there--and remembering the last time I'd assembled the thing, that is was a pain to do.  So I proceeded to spend the next hour and a half separating the metal looped hooks, sorting out the parts and putting the darn thing together.  Then I left the cage by my back door for my friend to pick up as requested.

[cat And Two Kittens] Clip ArtThe day passed, the night passed, another day passed and there the cage sat. Finally, I called my friend.  "Oh, I don't need it now," she said. "I took the cat to the shelter myself and she had a litter of kittens. No wonder she was upset with me."

One year, I was asked to do a special children's sermon for the Christmas season. I wrote a story poem, and my choir director added some musical interludes. We were all ready. Last minute, plans changed. Someone else did the sermon. Thanks but no thanks.

At the request of a local farm market owner who runs all kinds of special tours to schools, I designed an entire fun lesson packet. It contained all kinds of activities to teach kids about farming, planting, vegetables and animals on the farm. I spent hours on the worksheets, puzzles, and stories. When it was all done, I delivered it to her door and sent computer files of it. Weeks went by and I heard nothing. Not a word. I had no idea how my efforts were received. Finally, I contacted the farm owner. Only then did she tell me she really liked it, and then sent me the payment for my work.  The money was nice, but I certainly would have liked some feedback for all the effort I'd put in without soliciting it. I wasn't even sure she'd gotten the materials.

There's more I could add to my list but another such story comes from another friend. He had invited his family over for a picnic. Everyone accepted the invitation. He bought and prepared all kinds of food with chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs....the whole nine yards, enough for the entire clan.  About half the family showed up on time. The other family, with children was late. So late the food was getting cold, so the family there ate.  By the time the others happened to arrive, everyone else had eaten. Then, to his dismay, the latecomers informed him they'd decided to be vegetarians recently and proceeded to ask where the nearest grocery store was. They headed off to buy vegetables as the cooked meats just kind of sat there, uneaten.

Minor events in all our lives, but a pattern starts to emerge. There are those people who act when the time comes, in a timely manner.  Make a date with them to do something, and they'll show up on time, or call you to let you know there's a problem.  When we ran a community theatre years ago, my friend, I, and all the rest of the staff had an unwritten agreement:  If you promise to do something, do it. Don't make a promise you can't keep. Realize everyone else is relying on you to keep up your part of the job.  We stuck by the rules and ended up having a great working relationship.

But, not so in the rest of the world. How many times have you waited for someone who didn't show up? I worked with another friend on a project one time and he stood me up at least a half dozen times along the way. I even had a church organist show up two minutes before a wedding where I was singing the solos. Not only did we miss the warm up, but he'd managed to lose his copy of my music--the only copy with the accompaniment.  At the last minute, I did manage to find a replacement song to sing in that slot.  It wasn't the perfect solution, but because I'd managed to have at least one song in my "bag of tricks" to use, we saved the day.

Ask me for a favor, and if I agree, I'll go out of my way for you. I'll be there when you want me to be there. I'll uphold my part of the bargain.

Wish everyone thought that way.

OK, rant over. I tripped over the harrow when I was feeding the horses tonight. I guess it just got on my nerves.


  1. We can't change them, and we certainly don't want to join them. I made the judgement that it's a Them & Us World. Some of "Them" were raised by wolves!

  2. Good rant! I totally agree with you. I've also been disappointed many times. I don't know how some people are brought up to disregard their responsibilities and not take into account others feelings and time. I'm of the opinion they were raised by "wolves!"