Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends. Lennon and McCartney
I have a neighbor who is a professional auto mechanic. He has worked on our cars for years. His charges have always been reasonable and he’s saved us thousands of dollars by fixing what needs to be fixed and leaving well enough alone. He’s also worked on my motorcycles. Years ago, he often borrowed my bikes to take trips to Richmond or West Virginia. I never charged him for the use of the bikes and he never charged me for working on them. More recently, he’s asked to be compensated for the larger jobs and I’ve always offered to pay for the smaller ones, which he sometimes accepts and sometimes doesn’t.
I recently tried to make arrangements with him to install some new tires for me. In the midst of our planning during a phone conversation yesterday, he announced that I had forgotten to offer to pay him the last time and therefore he didn’t want to do it this time. I rushed to his house and offered to pay for the last time, saying I was always willing to pay for his work. Did he still want to work on my cars? Was I taking advantage of him? We calmed down a bit but it got me thinking about the nature of human favors.
Another friend is storing a motorcycle for me long-term. When I bought the bike and looked for a place to keep it, he offered generously. But recently he is making noise like he’d like me to pick it up. I am making plans to do so although I have no good place to store it.
Two other friends have edited my books for me. One I’ve offered compensation or a gift, and she’s declined. The other I also offered, and she accepted a donation to her favorite charity. Another friend drew the maps for two of my books. He’s declined compensation.
On the other hand, I’ve welcomed the opportunity to help others. Jane and I hosted four cross-country bicyclists on their way through town. Although they were total strangers, we kept them for two nights and fed them food both that they’d supplied and that we’d bought. They brightened our lives.
I’ve asked another young friend to help me with some website development, here on this site. He can do in minutes what takes me hours. But I helped him recently with the process of interviewing for a job that will pay him likely more than I’ve ever been paid myself. Of course, the reason they’re paying him is for the knowledge he’s proven with his Master’s Degree, but I think the advice I gave him helped in the interview process.
So there’s give and take. I never want to be a burden on anybody, especially my friends, and I always want to pay my debts. But don’t we all get by with a little help from our friends?