Dear Abby: A few months ago, I offered to help a longtime friend with some landscaping. The area to be landscaped is tiny. I was concerned a professional landscaper would overcharge her. She contacted a landscaper anyway — not to hire him, but to pick his brain.
When he arrived, it was obvious he didn’t want the job, and she didn’t offer it to him. She took me up on my offer. She then procrastinated for a couple of months, during which time I got busy on other projects. But I carved out time for her, and we sat down to look at her project. She confessed she had no experience with landscaping and plant selection, and she needed my help with that, too.
After she pooh-poohed the most viable suggestions I offered, we proceeded to look at plants — LOTS of plants — none of which she liked. After a few frustrating hours, she mentioned she’d just plant what she had originally thought about planting. I told her if she did that, she did not need my help. She told me I needed to be more patient, and had she known I wouldn’t help her she would have hired the landscaper after all. (It wasn’t true. She never had any intention of hiring him.)
I told her she needed to be more decisive, and even though she had told me she needed my experience, she wasn’t accepting of it. She also couldn’t see that she had wasted hours of my time. We’ve barely spoken since. So, am I in the wrong here?
Green Thumb in Texas
Dear Green Thumb: No, you are not in the wrong. No good deed goes unpunished. Consider yourself lucky that you have barely spoken since. And then do not broach the subject again unless you want to experience more frustration.
Dear Abby: I am the activities director at a nursing/rehabilitation home in Montana. My residents and I want you to know how much we enjoy your column. We read it every day and discuss what kind of advice we would give to your letter writers. Your column is a highlight of our afternoons.
We would also like to remind your readers that there are plenty of homes like ours, filled with people like us. We would appreciate and benefit from being acknowledged by our communities, not just during holidays, but all year long. These homes are full of your grandparents, parents and other family members and friends. Our community has always been loving and supportive toward us. We hope homes in other locations are as fortunate as we are.
Thank you for your column. We look forward to more!
Faithful Resident, Deer Lodge, MT
Dear Resident: Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful letter. I’m pleased your residents enjoy support from the good citizens of your community; it says nice things about the folks in Montana. I know my column is discussed around many breakfast tables and water coolers because it’s a sure-fire conversation generator. That’s the reason it is popular in many nursing homes and rehab facilities.
I hope more readers will find time to visit the residents in these homes, not only for the joy it will bring to them, but also to avail yourselves of the wealth of experience these individuals have acquired during their long lifetimes. While visitors are plentiful during the holidays, they are very quiet at other times.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.