Dear Mountain Mama,
Last weekend a friend accidentally slid his kayak through the rear window of my pickup. He apologized and offered to pay. I had the window fixed and called him about it, but he’s not making good on his promise.
I don’t want to lose a paddling partner, but things are tight, especially during the holidays. Should I ask him again?
I can hear the glass shattering into hundreds of pieces. I can see the looks of surprised exchanged, the feeling that if only we could rewind two minutes, we’d be more careful.
I know because my rear window has been busted. My friend slid a canoe all the way into the front seat, ignoring that glass barrier altogether. I was out $200. At first he offered to split the cost with me. But then he didn’t follow through, despite my constant reminders.
I resented that he never made good on his offer to split the cost. I was keeping track, a tit for a tat, and I began to wonder if he was a good friend after all.
Fast forward two months later when my two-year old son reached a toddler milestone – his first visit to the ER. My two-year old came to crying to me, covered in blood. It was almost eight on a freezing Tuesday evening. The friend in question is a nurse. I called him, expecting at most for a few minutes of his time to figure out how serious the cut was. He picked up on the first ring, was cleaning the blood 10 minutes later, and drove us to the ER. Not only did he drive us there, but he escorted us through the whole ordeal, calming a nervous mama.
That night I realized that generosity can’t be captured on a balance sheet, that it doesn’t work when we keep tally. Instead, if we trust in our friendships we will discover abundance. By letting go of accounting, we nurture generosity. When we assume that our needs will be taken care of, we are able to give and receive without strings attached.
Dear Out-Of-Pocket, consider letting go of the expectation that your friend needs to pay you back for the window. You’ll be paying it forward in the karma bank. Trust that when you really need your friends in some way, they’ll be there for you. Consider it a bonus if your friend comes through with a check, but don’t ruin a friendship over broken glass.