Welcoming My Newest Demon 4/14/20

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Today there is a new demon to keep me awake at night. Because of my experience in chemistry, I’ve joined a parents’ support group for those who find themselves homeschooling because of Corvid-19. One of the members of this group was asking for help in chemistry, saying her son is struggling with his high school assignments. I reached out to offer my services.

I have a terrible problem. See, I like helping people, but I’m a terrible capitalist. I desperately need money but hate to ask for it. As such, I never asked for compensation. So, this mother and son have been offered free help by a Ph.D. chemistry university professor for free. Seems like a pretty sweet deal, doesn’t it?

It seems like a lot of people have no respect for things that are free. I learned this some years ago when a friend told me about his computer service company. He tried to charge a fair price, and was significantly less expensive than other similar companies, and yet provided better service because it was his company and he wanted to be known for quality. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get customers even as other companies were exploding. Somebody suggested that because he was so much less expensive, people assumed they didn’t do quality work. To test the hypothesis, he raised his prices. Still significantly less than other companies, his business increased. He raised the prices again, and again more clients.

After chatting a few times with the mother on messenger, and meeting with her via videoconferencing software, when I asked when they (meaning primarily her son), they seemed to have forgotten about me. After a few days, I reached out again to ask when they wanted to meet, and we arranged to meet twice a week and set the days and times.

Today I’m blogging primarily to blow off some proverbial steam. See, for the third time in a row, I was stood up. Three times I logged on to the videoconferencing software, three times I texted to see if they were planning on joining the meeting, and three times to no avail.

Today, I canceled all of the remaining meetings. I took it a step further, in fact, and blocked further messages from the mother as well. After giving them three meetings, waiting for half an hour in a lonely video conference, I figured I’d given them enough chances and have lost my patience to give any more chances. I think it’s fair; if I were serious about getting help, I would have shown up to the meetings on time, made sure the software was ready, and would be there as soon as possible not just for me, but to show respect for the person willing to help. Is that too much to expect?

Here’s the funny thing. While I am happy with my efforts to give them as many chances as reasonable, I still feel bad about it. I’ve given up because if they are not ready at the day and time that they requested, I cannot believe they are serious about getting the help that they say they need. And yet, I’m stuck with questions of if I should have given them another chance.

And here is the birth of a demon. I’m going to be haunted by this decision to give up on these two who have on multiple occasions shown lack of effort. I’ll lose sleep worrying about a high school student struggling with chemistry even though he certainly didn’t act like he really wanted help.

I can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me. Well, there is, let’s be honest. If I needed help, I know that I would have been logged onto the meeting, ready to start at the time. If something really did come up, I would be very apologetic and reach out to the person helping as soon as possible rather than waiting until I received a text asking if we are still on. So why is it that I’m feeling bad for cutting these two loose who have missed three meetings. After the first, I gave them two more chances, and yet I’m the one who will be haunted by the events leading up to this.

I’m not going to launch into a tirade about “back in my day”. But I have to admit, I do wish there were more respect in our society. People should respect each other’s time and appreciate their efforts. I also wish I could somehow avoid feeling personally guilty when others take advantage of my efforts.

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