A friend called and asked a favor. I’m not exactly the kind to give the shirt off my back so I was immediately wary and assumed a defensive stance. But it turned out all he wanted was to borrow our cat carrier. I said yes. I figured, what the hell.
What is it to actually be considerate of a person other than yourself? And why has this become such a lost art?
Recently it was the Fourth of July. As such, I had strongly considered keeping the cat carrier handy in case the asshole neighbor(s) shot fireworks at our house and set it ablaze. I wanted to be be disaster prepared and able to whisk my kitties away to safety at a moment’s notice.
Alas, I was afflicted by inertia and never got off my lazy ass to get the damn thing. I decided to roll the dice and play the odds. After all, my house wouldn’t burn down. Probably.
What the fuck is wrong with me?! There may be people in my neighborhood, but let me tell you what they never do. They never do shit – for me – for free. We’re talking about outside the realm of possibility here.
The mechanic never says, “Hey, Tom. Your car has a leaky head gasket. I’ll fix it for free.”
The brain surgeon never says, “Let’s whip that tumor out of that precious little head. No charge!”
The butcher doesn’t say, “Fella, you sure look like you could use a New York strip. Think fast!”
Me? I was dropped on my head as a wee child. (This is scientific extrapolation. It’s the only explanation that fits the facts.) Computer geek. Programmer. Webmaster. A true modern day Renaissance man. And the only time in my life I ever run is when I can give my shit away for free.
“Yes, I’d be happy to help you with your website in my spare time. Before spending any money – about anything – talk to me first. I’ll look out for you. I’ll protect you from being gouged. You paid $8,000 for your website? Yes, that affirms my opinion of humanity.”
If I have skills that are useful I figure, what the hell, why not help parasitic life forms who happen to be trapped on the same plane as myself?
I don’t ask much in return. A sincere word of “thanks” would be more than enough. Good form dictates, though, that some effort at appearances be made. It’s like pretending to reach for your wallet after a meal when the other person wants to pick up the tab and have you absolutely no intention. Anything less than that minimal effort is bad form.