Not too long ago, my car battery died unexpectedly. Early in the day, I went into my garage and put a CD into the car player to check if the CD still played (my home player wasn’t working). It did (yay!) so I ejected the CD, came into the house and went on with my day.
About 2:30, I looked for my keys to get ready to drive to an appointment about 20 minutes away. My keys were not in their usual place. I got a sinking feeling. I went out to the garage, and there they were in the ignition (in “alt” position) where I’d left them five hours earlier. Oh no. No juice left in the battery. I’d drained it.
My husband was unavailable and so was his car. I thought of a few friends I might call. Although this was an appointment I didn’t want to miss, I hesitated. I don’t find it easy to ask for this kind of help — for someone to drive me somewhere or (heaven forbid) loan me their car, especially on such short notice. It felt like a big favor, and I went back and forth for a while. Do I cancel? Reschedule? Call someone?
Because I was in a crunch, I picked up the phone and called a friend. Answering machine. I texted. No response. Then I remembered she was also away that day.
I thought of another friend and made the call. She was there but about to head out to her own appointment and needed the car to get there. But what she said next changed everything.
Ann said, “Oh, shoot, I really wish I could. I would have been happy to — anytime. I’m so glad you thought of me, and please call me again whenever you need a favor. Put me at the top of your list!” And she meant it.
A Gift That Goes Both Ways
I was floored. A big smile on my face, I said I would, and thanked her profusely. As I thought about it later, I realized she’d given me a gift way beyond what I’d asked for. I’d never before experienced something quite like that — something I kind of understood in an intellectual way — that when we ask for help we give a gift. Someone gets to give of their time or energy or expertise, and the giving makes them happy, makes them feel good..
Fortified with some serious experiential awareness, I made one more call to a third friend, Donna, who said, “Right now?” And I said, “Yes. It’s okay if I’m a little late, and yes, I need to leave in the next few minutes.” And Donna said, “Okay, no problem. Would you like me to drive you, or do you want to take my truck?” Wow. And I once again felt the gift of generosity that goes both ways.
I’ve never driven a truck, and Donna said she’d be happy to drive. We had a lovely ride on a beautiful day, catching up and talking about anything and everything. Not only that, but I was able to call AAA from the truck and get them to meet me at my house when I got home. Battery was charged by the end of the day. And I had a serious new learning in my awareness bag, grateful for the lesson in how asking a favor can be a gift in itself.
Maybe not everyone is ready to give the way my friends were that day, but how do I know? I’ve learned to be self-sufficient to the point that I would rather do things myself than depend on someone else. How many opportunities have I missed to receive the kind of heartfelt generosity I experienced that day?
Another consequence is that I’m looking for opportunities to say “Yes, absolutely!” the next time I’m asked to offer support, do a favor, or be there for a friend. Generosity of spirit is contagious.
I’m learning something you probably already know. But if you’re wondering, try asking a friend for a favor today and see what happens. Or just say “Yes, absolutely!” when you’re asked for one.