The question came over as casually as any other, but it was a loaded one. “Why are you being nice to me?” she asked.
“I’m nice to everyone,” I replied. It was the truth. I am.
But her real question was, “What will you eventually want from me for this favor?” I understood that is what she was asking, but kinda ignored it. The truth is I am nice to everybody. I really am. With no expectation of anything in return.
We are all on this rock together. What affects you, affects me. A very long time ago, I decided that what I wanted most from life was to be part of a community of civility and cooperation, where we all need to feel important and valued. Shouldn’t that be enough? If that community didn’t exist, I was going to make it. It’s a run uphill on a gravel road in bare feet almost every day.
I wasn’t going to write this post as it sounded a bit like a whine, but then read this from Margie Clayman today and this from Neil Kramer yesterday. Take a few minutes to read them; I’ll wait.
When I worked in Human Resources, I would have to remind myself that only about 10% of the people I helped would be grateful or even acknowledge that I had done anything for them. Most would even accuse me of being manipulative in favor of the company I worked for. Some even stick with me today more than fifteen years later, their comments were that vicious.
But it was the 10% that kept my faith in the overall goodness of people.
A more level-headed friend of mine reminded me during a more recent crisis of faith that even really awesome, highly-paid baseball players only bat 300. Most people, he said, belong to the 700 Club. You can’t structure a life built around them but instead, shoot to work with the 300.
I started blogging as a dog years back partly to be able to have a voice that was not beholding to anyone, including family or clients. What I later realized was that I wanted to also be that person for whom nobody would ever feel they owed me for anything I willingly did for them just because it was the nice thing to do. I am finding it hard to convince people this need is genuine. No stings, ever.
So now all this social media, community and favors we do for people is just supposed to be for favors we can ask for later? I think that is sad. I hear parents claim all the time that their kids “owe” them tuition or care for them in their later years and I also find that very, very sad. I think we should all pay things forward.
But the sad irony is that I have a hard time believing anyone doing anything for me will not want something in return. I know what motivates me and if there is me out here, there are probably others.
Make sense? I didn’t think so and I understand your suspicion. It’s ok, I’m patient.