Recently I have been thinking about HELP.
I believe, or at least would like to believe, that pretty much everyone wants to help. The issues as I see them are, when and how much.
A long time ago I heard something to the effect that “a gift is not a gift unless it is received”. That, to me, seems like there is an implied responsibility on the part of the gifted, or giftee, if there is such a word. The recipient has some sort of an obligation to respond to the gift giver, or giftor, if that is indeed a word. Perhaps in way of a “thanks, just what I needed”, or “you shouldn’t have, but I’m glad you did”. Some sort of recognition. At least that is what I was taught. And it had to be nice. I wasn’t allowed to say something snotty like “oh, what is it?” Or rude like “I don’t like the color”. I had to show my appreciation, positively. Even if I didn’t know what it was or the color was something that I would not wear. Ever.
I don’t quite know how to do this, but I would like to shift from “I” to a global/generic “YOU”. So here goes.
If you consider help as a gift, then the same rules apply. You are obliged to accept help from anyone offering it, if for no other reason than to not offend them. And you have to be nice about it. Same reason.
“Here, let me help you with the dishes”, or “I’ll get that for you”. Sometimes help is appreciated, needed, expected, and wanted, and sometimes it is not.
I remember a time when I was at the Intervale emptying the leaves from my truck bed. It was my third trip that day and I was not enjoying myself. I heard this voice behind me saying “I’ll give you a hand with those”. I guess I temporarily forgot my training and turned to the voice and said “thanks, but, no thanks. You help me, then I have to help you, and I am sick of doing this”. I had insulted the guy, and then felt sorry that I refused his offer. As it turns out, I found out afterward, that the guy is a neighbor and that he and I are in the same boat club. We have since worked on many projects together. Nothing has ever been said regarding the Intervale incident. Perhaps he has forgotten. I haven’t. I owe him an apology.
Over the years I have modified the giftee/giftor rule. I find now that each instance will stand on it’s own merit. The default is to accept. That is, if there is not the luxury of time to think or consider, then, yes! But if the situation is such that you can take the time to consider, to give thought, to reason, to suspect, then the answer will be apparent. It will be the right thing to do.
Next on my reading list is by Philip Hallie Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed