The other day one of my employees came in with four tomatoes in a plastic bag.
She said she was tending a neighbor’s garden and had too many to eat, so she brought them into share.
Then she proceeded to place all the tomatoes on another employee’s desk.
Apparently they were all for her.
It’s not that I resented the woman the fruit. Yes, I like tomatoes but I’m perfectly willing and able to buy them at the farmers market.
But I do wonder why some people attract such kindnesses and others do not.
People are always giving this particular woman things.
Our bookkeeper just gave her a barely used computer. The tomato lady is always bringing in baked goods, magazines and casseroles.
Can’t she afford to buy her own computers or casseroles? Does she emit some sort of vibe, a “do nice things for me” pheromone?
She’s not the only person I know that received an abundance of gifts and good deeds. A friend of mine is always going home to find someone came in and cleaned his house while he was at work. Or shoveled his driveway.
When he’s sick, people line up out the door to bring him soup, pick up his mail and walk his dog.
Again, it’s not that I want a stranger cleaning my house (I lock my door for a reason), but it’s odd how there are certain people how consistently receive that kind of attention.
I think the reason is two-fold.
First, some people seem to project the image that they need more help than others.
Take my employee, for instance. She doesn’t have a lot of nice clothes. She always looks a little sloppy, and unkempt.
I think it’s a fashion decision; many people probably interpret this as need.
She also is always talking about things going wrong.
Her basement flooded. The cable company messed up her bill. Her car broke down.
Looking like she does and talking about her problems makes her appear as if she needs extra help just to get through the trials of life we all experience.
The other half of the reason is that once people see someone giving another person stuff or help, they join in.
The housecleaner, for instance, tells someone that she cleaned their mutual friend’s house and that someone thinks, “Well, he must be going through a hard time if he can’t clean his own house. Maybe I’ll stop over and shovel his driveway for him.”
Then he tells about shoveling the driveway and the person he tells does something too.
And it turns into a vicious cycle of philanthropy.
Eventually, everyone just assumes the guy always needs help. He is their go-to for good deeds doing.
I’m actually glad that I don’t have the “do nice things for me” pheromone. Sure, I wouldn’t mind a tomato now and again, but I’d hate having people pop over all the time to commit acts of kindness.
I’d probably end up telling them all to leave me alone and that wouldn’t be very nice after everything they’d done for me.