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Is an Act of Kindness a Sign of Weakness?

10 March 2014, 07:24

I received an e-mail from Patricia, PA to the MD.

My ex husband has lost his job and is now discharged from hospital.  He will need accommodation for a month, at least one meal a day, a warm bed and be close to busses.

I can ill afford to pay for the accommodation so any discount will be appreciated.

The Godfather said:  "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."  Now, someone has added - And your relatives as far away as possible.

I believe that if you want to keep your friends close and borrow money from them with promises of doubling it on payday, do this, even if you have to borrow from another friend.

But, if you go back to borrow time and again the day after payday, your friends may soon become your enemies.

A relative may ring your doorbell at 2am with a:  "The wife threw me out.  I have nowhere to go.  Please can I stay here for two days max until I am back on my feet?"

My ex brother in law did this.  After a month, his wife took him back.  Around six months later he 'phoned:  "I have received a massive bonus from work.  Jenny and I would like to take you guys out for dinner.  Just to thank you for being so kind."

After the liqueurs, he gestures to the waiter.  The, thank goodness, ex relative stares at the bill, then dramatically leaps out of the chair, patting his pockets, with a:  "Jen, you haven't seen my wallet, have you?  Did I leave it at home?" and "Would you guys be so kind as to settle this?  I'll square you up on payday."

Which, obviously, he didn't.

Friends, enemies and relatives may also arrive for a bring and braai with a packet of chicken wings and devour the steaks and sosaties while helping themselves to Castles from any cooler box.

If they decide to reciprocate with ulterior motives, they will 'phone with a:  "Please bring a case of Castles.  You ran out the last time.  Also, steaks and sosaties.  There weren't enough.  We brought chicken wings last time.  Also, if you would be so kind, a potato and Greek salad.  Not too much lettuce.  You make them so divinely."

You can't get pissed off with your spouse as these are friends and relatives, remember.  After all, they assume, what are friends for if you cannot use them?

As an act of kindness you may give a beggar the loose change from the cubby-hole.  Now, not only do you have the added pressure of avoiding e-toll gantries you also have to take an alternative route as the same beggar will be there again ready to pounce.

When I was still naïve and going the extra mile, a guest arrived, sobbing:  "My 'phone and money was stolen at the airport.  I really need to 'phone home and tell my folks that I am safe.  Please could I use your 'phone?  I'll only be a minute."  Then I hear:  "Put Rover on the line.  Hello, Rove, how are you, my big boy?  I miss you so much.  Do you miss me?  Woof.  Woof."

And, they kept on coming:  "Could you print my flight details?  Thank you, you are so kind.  While you are at it, could you also print our tour itinerary?"  All in colour, mind you.

I soon cottoned on to what they were thinking.  This woman cannot say no so I will take advantage of this weakness.  As I have done so often before.

As I can't snarl at the guests as they will get me back on TripAdvisor, I have to fib.

"I am so sorry," I say sweetly, "My landline is out of order.  I have run out of airtime.  I am waiting for the printer cartridges to be delivered.  You could pop over to the Premier Hotel down the road."

On their return:  "They wanted to charge us.  Where we come from all these things are for free."

I learn something new every day.

I have also received calls:  "You sound like such a kind person.  Would you contribute to my charity?"

"No, you have it all wrong," I say.  "I am everything but kind."

Ms No-Name continues:  "Do you have any friends or relatives I can call, who are kind?"

"No," I fib.  "Unfortunately, all the people I know are either bitches or bastards."

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