Pay It Some Direction or Other

I did someone a favor yesterday. It wasn’t a huge favor, as these things go. It only cost me some time, doing something that was easy for me but hard for him. In general, I think one should never pass up the opportunity to do such a favor. Pay it forward.

However, in doing this particular favor I was acutely aware that this individual might well be in a position to do me a favor in a few years. Pay it back.

Not that I wouldn’t have done it anyway. At least I think I would. Wouldn’t I?

If I were a proper not-wanting but not-not-wanting Buddhist I might know for sure.

In any case, though I’m not averse to Random Acts of Kindness ™, I tend to favor more directed, non-random acts. Once in a while the person in the car ahead of me will pay for my overpriced coffee beverage at the drive-thru. That’s nice, and random, and it makes me smile, but really, why? If I then buy the drink of the person behind me, and they continue the chain, what we have is basically people who buy overpriced coffee beverages stroking each other.

Last night I attended my last-ever middle school “curriculum night.” While sitting outside the cafeteria dodging the pre-event PTA meeting, a mom I know was telling me about her first marriage. She was excruciatingly young and a Mormon at the time (a fact that made my jaw drop, given this woman’s current state of being), and she joined a casserole club.

It works like this: If you are assigned to Monday, then on Monday you  produce and deliver a casserole for each of the other six ladies in the club. On Tuesday, the Tuesday lady delivers a casserole to you. And so on.

My friend shuddered with horror at the memory, but I thought it was a great idea. Why should seven Mormon ladies produce their own casseroles every day when they can do one day of hard cooking and have dinner done for the rest of the week?

It’s more of an explicit trade than an act of kindness but I admired the community spirit.

There is a significant risk of tuna-noodle overload poisoning. Mercury, you know.

Is there a point to this? It’s all so obvious. Be nice to each other. Do favors when you can. Pay favors back, or forward, or both, if you get the chance. And if you need help, ask. It will make someone feel good to help you.

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4 thoughts on “Pay It Some Direction or Other

  1. A friend of mine was just telling me the other day about when she was in a casserole club. She didn’t call it that, but it was just as you described it. She is also Mormon. (Surprise.) I personally cannot fathom cooking for six families (plus my own, I assume) in one day. It’s not so much the work, but the planning. And also the work. Plus, my kids would probably complain about everyone else’s cooking. But at least it would be someone else’s and not mine.

  2. If you were a proper Buddhist, you probably wouldn’t worry about your motivations.

    We eat too much. If everyone could cut back to three dinners a week, you’d only have to cook half as often.

  3. I was raised on guilt and have never been able to get it in balance. I’m a pretty nice person most of the time. When I do something nice for someone I feel tremendously guilty. I start going through a wicked loop of am I only doing this to be nice or because I expect something back. Horrid.
    Sounds like you got the same gene.

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