How I Learned about Being Taken Advatage Of.

When I was in high school I never had the "normal" job of dishing out soft-serve or deep-fattening french fries.  I was socially inept at best and I didn't cling to those things my peers did.  My weekends were not spend out partying, they were spent out baby-sitting the children of the neighborhood, as their parents enjoyed a night off.
I was good at baby-sitting and the only time I turned down work was when I had another baby-sitting commitment.  I was the go-to girl for most of my mom's friends, and I enjoyed the money I made.  My success was that I allowed the families to set the rate, and most of the time I walked away with more than if I set my dollar per child I had considered.  For the most part, people were honest and paid accordingly.  They rewarded hard work and appreciated the service that I provided.
Notice I said for the most part.  Because sadly, someone is always ready to take advantage of another's gesture of good faith.
Entering the summer of my eighth grade year, "Desert Storm" began.  I was baby-sitting one of my regulars when the wife got the call that her husband was called to serve.  Serve as border patrol off the coast of Flordia. 
Okay so he wasn't n the heat of battle but he had to leave his wife and two young children, and there was no stopping him being sent overseas.  In our little microcosm it was a BIG deal and we all tied on a yellow ribbon.  We all played our part, and after a talk with my mom I decided to offer this family free baby-sitting services.  Being a one parent household was not going to be easy for this family and I was there when needed to make their live a little easier.
Or so we thought.
What started off as a gesture of good-will became any thirteen-year-old's worst nightmare.  Almost every day I was there.  Sometimes all day.  Suddenly more children entered the deal.  Instead of two, I would have four or five baby-sitting charges.  One hour here and there turned into eight to twelve hour days.  My Saturday's became their Saturday's and I came home tired and empty handed.  Not a penny. 
I found I couldn't say no, I was a kid and this family was far worse off than me.
I couldn't say no, but my mom did.
The last straw was when I started my day there at 7 am and didn't get home till 2 am the next morning.
My mom put her foot down.  This lady was suppose to be a friend and she took advantage of others' kindness.  And took advantage in worst way by doing it to a child.
Honestly when we started this my mom and I thought I'd be there if she needed to run to the grocery store, or needed a night out every once in awhile.  We thought that even though we were offering this service she would pass a dollar or two, or maybe a thank you card.  I got nothing.  My mom knew enough was enough and if I continued on this path I would burn out fast.
I walked away from that situation learning two things.  One, it is okay to offer your help but is equally okay to walk away if that help is taken advantage of.  And two, when someone offers kindness you should always, in your own way, repay that kindness.
Never take advantage of those who have come to help you.

Comments

  1. Good for M for teaching you such a wonderful, valuable lesson! I am still learning this lesson, even as I approach 40.

    It still amazes me how some people won't think twice about completely taking advantage of another person's kindness. But it is up to us to stand up for ourselves. I just wish I had learned this lesson a little sooner in life...

    ReplyDelete

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