Don’t Do It

Depending on your moral convictions, the broadness of your shoulders and your ability to weather a well placed swift kick, just stop and think about it first.  I want to convey to you the dangers of favors and freebies.

When it comes to family, friends and acquaintances, there within lies the inherent possibility of misunderstandings and perhaps the greater loss of friendships.  This all sounds negative I know, but I write this only as a warning.  What follows is an example of what I’m trying to communicate.

An elderly couple purchased a metal shed from Sears which was delivered and placed in their back yard.  Not having the ability to assemble it themselves, they called me.  Over the years we had become friends and we were always sharing stories and recipes.  The Mister G. loved his pies.  The man of the house was confined to a wheelchair and I had built a ramp for his use early on.  When the couple decided where to have the shed placed, I got busy clearing away the sod and placing a footing of gravel.  I put down a moisture barrier, built an 8 x 10 form, then brought in the concrete from the truck out by street side.  By the way, wheeling concrete over wet, tall grass is not one of my favorite pastimes.  I laid and finished the pour, placed anchor bolts for the base frame.  When I was cleaning up and about to leave, Mrs. G. came out and asked why I didn’t finish.  I had to explain to her about not working on wet or green concrete.  I told her that I would be back in a couple of days and not to worry.  And, I did; I came back in two days.  The assembly of the shed was straight forward enough, but I believe some foreigner must have written the directions, for they made no sense to me.  On that third day, I finished with everything and handed her an itemized account of supplies.

The next day she called me on the phone and began berating me for charging her twice on the concrete.  She said “my son is going to fix your wagon”.  I gathered my wits about me and said that I would head right over.

When I arrived, the son was already there.  He was telling her that everything was OK and up to snuff and if anything, I did not charge enough.  He told her that I didn’t even charge anything for labor and all supplies were at cost.

Long story short, that was the end of our friendship and association.  She was embarrassed over the misunderstanding and her assumption that I was cheating her.

This was all my fault because I did not make it clear to her of my intentions of giving her a good deal.  I learned my lesson on that occasion not to be assuming individuals would automatically know what I would be doing.  With the infamous 20/20 hindsight, what I should have done was to bill straight up as with any job and then given a large discount when I was to be collecting.