” Dear neighbour ,
Could you please do us a favour to take care of the plants and pot flowers on the corridor ? We go abroad from May 30 to June 20. The plants needs watering every morning. “
My husband discovered the above note pasted on our door on May 30 morning. The note carried a polite and succinct request from our neighbour who lived just opposite to our flat. It surely reflected a genuine connection that has developed somewhere between us and our neighbour. Moreover, it was our first casual interaction (so what if through a note) with a neighbour ever since we shifted to Singapore. Otherwise, there were only formal ‘Hi’s , ‘Hello’s ,’Good Morning’s & ‘Good Evening’s.
Anyway,I was pleased to realise that our neighbour found us approachable enough to help her in need. But as we read the note further, it raised our eyebrows. It read :
” Thank you for your kindness. And I will pay $50 to you when coming back. Please use the blue watering can next door. Thank you so much. “
I don’t how you would react, but the idea of receiving $50 in return of a negligible favour to my neighbour made me feel uncomfortable at once. In fact, the thought of receiving any money in return of some help put us in an awkward position. Now, I hold high regards for my wonderful and ever-smiling neighbour. Still, you don’t encounter such offers everyday in return of your help to someone. The natural act of extending kindness to your neighbour sounds like a trade. That leaves me to wonder about certain things:
- Do me and my husband look the types who are only interested in money ?
- What does a neighbour mean ?
- If I am in need of her help someday, then should I assure her about some financial/materialistic gratitude from my end in return ?
- Is it necessary to always evaluate the monetary value of priceless gestures in life ?
- Can we repay everything we get in life from someone with money ?
I agree that our neighbour didn’t know us enough. Probably, that was the reason behind this type of offer.
Back in India, we can never think of paying or receiving money while giving or getting any help from our relative/friend/neighbour. It will be considered as an insult to the kindness offered. Kindness can be repaid only with kindness. A mere ‘ Thank You ‘ or a smile in return is sufficient to appreciate the kindness/help extended. Invitations for lunch, tea or dinner, helping in need can also be the alternate tokens of showing appreciation.
However, my neighbour thanked us for taking care of her plants once she was back from her holiday. She also brought the promised $50 and gave her best effort so that we accept the money. Needless to say, we cordially accepted her ‘ Thank You ‘ and tried to decline her $50 with even more politeness.
It took me and my husband almost 10-15 minutes to make our joint persuasion strategy come into effect and let her understand the whole situation. We assured her that we will never mind giving water to her plants again when she plans her holidays in future.Finally, she understood that it was not possible paying $50 to the adamant husband and wife. She left after saying ‘ Thank You ‘ and ‘ Sorry ‘ repeatedly.
Few days later :
I was about to leave for an evening walk. My neighbour came out of her flat and called me. When I approached her door, then she handed me a big box and said ‘ Thank You ‘ one more time with her usual smile. I couldn’t say anything but thank her in return this time.
Hmm. I think accepting $50 at firsthand was a better idea. Then we could have avoided this ‘chocolaty’ crisis and the subsequent requirement to run extra miles to burn the calories.
Jokes apart, I am glad the episode ended on a sweet note.
What do you think ? Should I have accepted her $50 ? What would you have done if you were in my place ? Let me know 🙂