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the ups and down of altruism


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How do you feel about receiving help when you need it?  What about when other people think you need it, but you don't really think so (but kinda sorta do)?  How do you accept or decline?  What are your reasons? 

I cannot afford a car, taxis, a transit pass, or any other "civilized" form of transportation at the moment.  My bike is presently in pieces until I manage to reassemble it as a functional machine, which may take another week or more.  I have to walk everywhere (seven miles to work, four miles to my mailbox, three and a half miles to the hospital or campus, etc) at all hours of the day and night until I successfully finish overhauling the drivetrain.  Some days, this is all right.  Other days, I nearly keel over from exhaustion.  Today was one of the latter. 

I left the bike coop after closing and had a good old-fashioned cry in a nearby alley.  This was shortly noticed by a campus security guard.  She refused to leave until I explained why I was crying, so I gave her the short form:  I am tired.  I'll walk home in another few minutes.  Don't worry about me.  Instead, she insisted on giving me ten dollars for cab fare.  We did the usual back-and-forth, but she ultimately threw the folded bill into my lap and hurriedly walked away. 

Cab fare?  Isn't that an unholy waste of money?  Think of the groceries.  But I hailed a cab and rode home, trying to piece it all together.  Why did I take the money?  Do I even deserve ten dollars?  Was I right to spend it in the way she wanted me to, rather than use it on something really practical (like food)?  And around and around it goes, as I feel guilty and selfish and undeserving and grateful by turns. 

Accepting favors is too confusing.  I think I'll be breaking out the Strong Girl personality for a while.

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I used to have to walk everywhere too although work was only 2 1/2 miles and my distances to my mailbox and a grocery store were much more reasonable. I remember those times when I was just *tired*; I didn't *want* to walk home. (insert mental whiney tone)

Now that I'm not doing that anymore, I feel like a slug. I would walk more but I live in the suburbs and they scare me - no fear of downtown areas but I hate the exposure of the suburbs. Blech, blech, blech. I know some of the missing it is glossing over (see the first paragraph <g>) but the more I think of it, I realize that for me, those walks (in addition to my nightly prowls) were probably what held me together until I got to my 30's and became more car dependent.

Oh well, enough philosophizing and on to the ten dollars. Yeah, ten bucks when you don't have it is a lot of money but I think you should try and give yourself a break. Think of all the times (if you're like me), you've walked home and wished fervently that someone would just give you a ride. Not that I'm a good example, but it's okay to take the little good things that come you're way.

I totally dig the whole random acts of kindness thing. It's feels *good* to be the giver and, although uncomfortable, to be on the receiving end makes me have a little more faith in humanity.

One of those songs that always make me cry is by a Country artist called Clay Walker (I know, I hated Country until the early '90s when "real" alternative went away. <g>)

Anyways, I'm putting in the lyrics because they're cool:

Artist/Band: Walker Clay

Lyrics for Song: The Chain Of Love

Lyrics for Album: Live, Laugh, Love

He was driving home one evening,

In his beat up Pontiac

When an old lady flagged him down,

Her Mercedes had a flat

He could see that she was frightened,

Standing out there in the snow

'Til he said I'm here to help you ma'am,

By the way my name is Joe

She said I'm from St. Louis,

And I'm only passing through

I must have seen a hundred cars go by,

This is awful nice of you

When he changed the tire,

And closed her trunk

And was about to drive away,

She said how much do I owe you

Here's what he had to say

You don't owe me a thing, I've been there too

Someone once helped me out,

Just the way I'm helping you

If you really want to pay me back,

Here's what you do

Don't let the chain of love end with you

Well a few miles down the road,

The lady saw a small cafe

She went in to grab a bite to eat,

And then be on her way

But she couldn't help but notice,

How the waitress smiled so sweet

And how she must've been eight months along,

And dead on her feet

And though she didn't know her story,

And she probably never will

When the waitress went to get her change,

From a hundred dollar bill

The lady slipped right out the door,

And on a napkin left a note

There were tears in the waitress's eyes,

When she read what she wrote

You don't owe me a thing,

I've been there too

Someone once helped me out,

Just the way I'm helping you

If you really want to pay me back,

Here's what you do

Don't let the chain of love end with you

That night when she got home from work,

The waitress climbed into bed

She was thinkin' about the money,

And what the lady's note had said

As her husband lay there sleeping,

She whispered soft and low

Everything's gonna be alright, I love you, Joe

**

Ruins

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lmnop:

There's nothing wrong with accepting a kind gesture from a stranger.  And some day you will remember that young person crying in the alley and help out someone else.

I can't remember where I was, but there is a city somewhere with a "Borrow a Bike" program.  They want to encourage bike-riding, so they re-habbed a bunch of bikes and have them all over the city.  You can borrow one, ride it to where you're going, leave it or ride it back---I thought it was a great idea to get people out of cars, particularly in the inner city.

If I lived near you, I'd give you my 10-speed.  I can't get my fat butt on that seat any more!

olga

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Imnop,

I believe that when you accept a gift, freely given, and without strings, you also give a gift to the giver.  You give them the joy of reaching out to a fellow being with love and the feeling that they made a small difference.  Security personnel see a lot of crap and don't give lightly.  She saw a need and tried to meet it in a caring way.

I never lend money, because I get really upset if it isn't paid back promptly, so I give it if I have it and tell the person to give it to someone who needs it rather than paying me back.  That way, I don't get upset and hopefully, the deed is passed on to another.

Tommy

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I do my best to help others too, but really, I'd be nowhere without the help I'm getting from the government and certain individuals.  Really, it makes me cry to think of it.  I'm 100% dependent on others.  What can I say? I would have to die, no exaggeration, without others' help. ;)

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How do you feel about receiving help when you need it?  What about when other people think you need it, but you don't really think so (but kinda sorta do)?  How do you accept or decline?  What are your reasons? 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Try a simple, plain, thank you. A smile helps too.

The fact is there are actually more genuinely nice kind people out there than sods. It's just the sods work so hard to make a Bad impression.

The help helps you, and odds on the helper feels that the world is a little better.

If you really don't need it, a simple "No thank you" works quite well. Unfortunately crying tends to spoil the effect, so head for Option 1 (Thank You) in such cases.

Store it up. Some time later, when things are going your way, pass on the favour.

Don't rely on the help coming. It won't always. But hey, when it does, just say thanks, and let your day improve a little.

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Artist/Band: Walker Clay

Lyrics for Song: The Chain Of Love

Lyrics for Album: Live, Laugh, Love

He was driving home one evening,

In his beat up Pontiac

When an old lady flagged him down,

Her Mercedes had a flat

He could see that she was frightened,

Standing out there in the snow

'Til he said I'm here to help you ma'am,

By the way my name is Joe

She said I'm from St. Louis,

And I'm only passing through

I must have seen a hundred cars go by,

This is awful nice of you

When he changed the tire,

And closed her trunk

And was about to drive away,

She said how much do I owe you

Here's what he had to say

You don't owe me a thing, I've been there too

Someone once helped me out,

Just the way I'm helping you

If you really want to pay me back,

Here's what you do

Don't let the chain of love end with you

Well a few miles down the road,

The lady saw a small cafe

She went in to grab a bite to eat,

And then be on her way

But she couldn't help but notice,

How the waitress smiled so sweet

And how she must've been eight months along,

And dead on her feet

And though she didn't know her story,

And she probably never will

When the waitress went to get her change,

From a hundred dollar bill

The lady slipped right out the door,

And on a napkin left a note

There were tears in the waitress's eyes,

When she read what she wrote

You don't owe me a thing,

I've been there too

Someone once helped me out,

Just the way I'm helping you

If you really want to pay me back,

Here's what you do

Don't let the chain of love end with you

That night when she got home from work,

The waitress climbed into bed

She was thinkin' about the money,

And what the lady's note had said

As her husband lay there sleeping,

She whispered soft and low

Everything's gonna be alright, I love you, Joe

**

Ruins

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ruins -

Oh my, these lyrics touched me! How wonderful. Usually I don't like country but I could just imagine this song in my head and it made me smile. So simple, so sweet. I must download it. ;)

Imnop -

I totally understand where you're coming from. It can be so hard to accept things from others. My problem is that usually I feel there is some hidden meaning behind whatever it is. Like, if someone is trying to give me $10 for a cab that they must want something in return. Paranoia much? lol. In my opinion the best way to try and think of it is that this deed is karma. It will come back to that person 3 fold. Take the gift they have given you and give it back to the world 3 fold also. Share the wealth when you can, share the love when you can. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Wow, this thread is becoming metaphor-tastic!

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I have a really hard time accepting help of any kind, too. Yet oddly, I get an great deal of pleasure from helping others. So I agree with Tommy's comment that by accepting, you're giving the giver something, too.

Have you ever seen the movie "Pay It Forward?" I've liked that philosophy since way before the movie. I totally believe in cosmic debt. Do something for someone that they can't do for themselves and someday someone will do something for you that you can't do. And 'round and 'round it goes.

Don't feel like you have to give exactly $10 to someone else some day. It doesn't work like that. $10 is to one person what a million is to another. No matter what our situation, we all usually have something to give to someone in need. Maybe it's money, but it doesn't have to be.

Here's a quick example... this past winter, I went through the drive through of a fast-food place. It was one of the first really cold days here and the poor gal at the window looked freezing. I had on a pair of those cheap stretchy gloves that cost about $1 a pair. I was going straight home (where I had another dozen or so pairs), so I took them off and gave them to her. At that exact moment, those gloves were probably priceless to her. It's all relative. If you keep your eyes open, opportunities like this present themselves to you every day.

By looking at it this way, it's become a lot easier for me to accept help from others (though I still have a long way to go).

Hope this helps,

Sunshine

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lmnop,

I agree with what has already been said here. The act of giving is a two-way street and people will rarely offer to give you something if your acceptance of it won't make them feel better. When we turn offers down, we are actually cheating the giver out of an oportunity to feel good.

My wife and I personally make it a habit to donate anonymously. This avoids the awkward moment of having to swallow one's pride and accept the offer. For example, while on vacation a few years ago, we ate in a run-down diner in El Paso Texas, right in the middle of a terrible drought. The whole area seemed blighted by the heat and lack of rain. The uniform our waitress wore was literally thread-bare; way beyond the point of needing to be replaced. Our lunch only came to about 8 dollars plus change, but we left a twenty dollar bill on the table and then quietly walked out. I don't know how that tip made the waitress feel, but it STILL makes my wife and me feel good, even to this day.

I also loved the movie "Pay it Forward," and that motto has become my personal philosophy. Sometimes people look at me like I'm NUTS for even offering, but it just plain feels good to be able to help someone else who really needs a hand up.

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Don't feel bad for accepting the cab fare. When people give you money it's because they can afford to do without it. So thank them, and put it to good use. To them, if their money helps someone in need then it is money well spent.  (Or at least that's how I feel about it when I give/get money.)

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