By Aric S. Queen
Mom cried like I’d never seen her cry before. She cried sometimes – like Moms always do – but this time it seemed more serious. She was sadder than usual and it was all because our refrigerator was broken. I was only 7 or 8, but I can distinctly remember that day. I remember it because Mom wasn’t the type to place a lot of importance on appliances and her crying kind of hinted at a deeper issue…
See, we didn’t have any money for a new one. And a fridge was something that a family of four needed. It was then I realized how poor we actually were.
I think Dad tried to put a fun spin on it, mentioning things about an ice chest and camping or something … but he felt badly as well. To be a man with a family and not have enough money for the basics had to hurt.
A few days later, our friends, the Lakeys showed up … with four hundred dollars in cash. And that’s when Mom cried some more. She cried this time, because she knew the Lakey’s were as poor as we were and could have put that money to good use – but they gave it to us. It wasn’t charity, it wasn’t a loan, it was 400 bucks.
And so, we took it – the friend gift. Got a new fridge [no ice dis- penser, sadly] and that was that. Dad wasn’t embarrassed anymore and the Lakeys didn’t get to keep Mom’s next child or anything. We simply leaned on a shoulder of our friends.
Of course, that stuck with me through the years – the kindness of the Lakeys, but it’s also something you see less-and-less these days. Not the favor, people do favors for friends all the time. No, it wasn’t that, it was the fact that they were as poor as we were. See, these days, we look on favors as something that might inconvenience us for a short while, but we allow ourselves to be inconvenienced because A. they’re our friends and B. we might need a favor from them someday.
But that’s hardly a favor – that’s a Friend Service. What the Lakeys did was sacrifice. They needed the money as much as we did and I’m sure it wasn’t going to be long before their fridge broke as well – but they didn’t look at it like that.
They had money and we didn’t so they gave us money. It could have – and very likely did – put them in a tight spot as well, but it didn’t stop them from doing it.
But who does that these days? Who lends a helping hand to someone knowing that it might cause them to lose their balance and end up in the same gutter? Very few.
I think we’ve forgotten what it’s like to seriously do someone a favor. We allow ourselves to be temporarily bothered for a bit, but when was the last time you gave up something you also needed, for the betterment of someone else?
Even as I remember this story, I try to think of things I’ve done that fit into that category:
- Gave a fella a dollar on the subway the other day … but I had dollars to spare.
- I helped my brother put the top on his Bronco … but I had time and muscles.
- A friend needed travel advice … could hardly call that charitable., though.
- Gave a Kindle to a non-profit last week … but, then again, I have an iPad.
So no. Even with a perfect example of a true friend favor, I can’t remember when – or even if – I’ve ever done one.
I’d like to think I have – and maybe that’s the key to it; it’s something you wouldn’t immediately remember, because that’s the last thing on your mind when you do it.
But I’ll tell you this – I think we can learn something from the Lakeys. I know I did. And I think about it every time I open a refrigerator door.