Warning: Rant ahead!
I was visiting an elderly neighbor today. He’s a shut-in and always happy for company; he even leaves a door open so my wandering cat, Midge, can pay a visit.
While discussing the current events here in Eastport, he mentioned a neighbor who has been driving him nuts.
“The problem with Patty is, whenever she does something nice for me, she has to let everyone in town know she did it,” he lamented. “She’ll bring me supper and then I am hearing from half the neighborhood about how she ‘takes care’ of me; as if I can’t feed myself. ”
He stared out the window for a long moment and added, ” It’s embarrassing. Why does she do it?”
At first I thought he was asking me why Patty feels the need to shout her good deeds to the world (or to whomever will stand still long enough to listen), but as I sat on my neighbor’s couch I realized what he was really asking me: Why does Patty bring him supper? What’s her motive?
Does she do it to help out an elderly shut-in or does she do it so she can try and focus the spotlight on herself for another day?
A lot of us do nice things, good deeds, perform the proverbial ‘random acts of kindness’ because it makes us feel good inside. We do it for the happiness it brings someone else and we expect nothing in return.
People like Patty have an entirely different motive.
I know someone else who does the same manoeuvre. Recognition is the name of the game with these types of “do gooders”. Volunteer work brings on a long and involved conversation where she explains how she really doesn’t have the time for it, but the organization in question just can’t get by without her help.
After it’s done, she’ll tell anyone within hearing distance (and she’ll raise her voice expressly for those standing just outside of hearing distance) about the number of hours she put in, the amount of money she raised, the number of people who benefitted from her generosity.
Just ask these types what they’ve been up to lately and they’ll blow their own horn for hours. Naturally, they save the world single handedly.
We all know someone like this. Who knows, perhaps some who are reading this will recognize themselves.
For those of you who recognize yourself in this rant, ask yourself the next time you are signing on for yet another charitable cause, what’s your motive?
On behalf of those of us who do kindnesses for others and remain silent about them: we don’t want to listen to you, we don’t want to tell you how wonderful you are, and we are getting just a wee bit tired of patting you on the back when you’ve already sprained your arm patting yourself on the back.
If you find yourself repeating the same self-congratulatory litany to your friends, family, and neighbors, then you aren’t performing your heroic feats for anyone other than yourself…think about it.