Chapter 1: Non-Reciprocal Takers
This is a post by guest writer Amo Tango. This is a story about helping out certain types of “friends”, and when it can go wrong.
Beggar at the Door
What a year Maria was having. In the same year Simba dies, her best friend goes nuts on her, and work has never been so stressful. Having to prepare for a business trip that ended up being canceled 2 days prior to leaving just added to the stress, and to top things off, the very weird Evan decided to show back up in her life, in a very unnecessarily dramatic way.
After about 3 months after Simba’s passing and a spat with Chuck and Emily, Maria was woken up one morning by a couple of text messages on her phone from a friend that hadn’t talked to her in a year or so. The messages seemed desperate and serious; Evan was begging Maria for a place to stay immediately. Upon reading these messages, Maria became very concerned and called Evan right back.
He wouldn’t say the reason why he needed to get out of his parents’ house so badly; he just kept whispering that he needed somewhere to crash for a few days. As confused as Maria was, she was even more worried, so she told Evan he could stay over, but he would have to tell her why, when he got there. To this, he agreed.
After that call, all sorts of ideas popped into Maria’s head… she was expecting the worst: had Evan gotten abused by his parents? Had he been badly hurt? She was contemplating on calling the police, but decided to wait until Evan explained everything.
As it was a weekday, Maria had to get up and prepare for work. Mike had just woken up, so Maria told him everything. He was kind of weirded-out that Evan would show up suddenly and stay over at their place without saying the reason, but he was ultimately OK with it. Maria had told Evan to call her once he got to the apartment, and that she would come back from work and let him in.
A couple of hours passed by, but there was no sign of Evan. Another 2 hours passed by, and he was still a no-show. Had he really been hurt this time? Maria was getting very worried, so she called him back. Evan answered, but he was still back at his parents’ place: he told her he couldn’t get away just yet. At this point, Maria was kind of freaking out; what did this mean? Evan is not the type to give many details when he talks; you really have to extract it out of him, and so Maria just decided to wait until he got to her apartment. In the meantime, she kept thinking the worst.
Finally, in the early afternoon, Evan called Maria and told her that he made it to her apartment. Maria rushed back from work to let him in. He looked really pitiful, and he even started crying in front of Maria. Although he looked really tired and sad, he didn’t look physically hurt.
Evan finally told Maria what had happened: since his graduation, which was in the same year as Maria (about 2 years ago); he had done nothing but play a computer game, night and day, cooped up in his room, never going out to see the sun, which would explain his unnaturally pale skin, and this lack of production finally got to his dad.
His dad was fed up and told his son to get out into the world and to do something with his life instead of not sleeping when he should and spending his entire time playing a stupid video game. After hearing the reason for Evan’s freak-out, Maria’s fears and concerns instantaneously disappeared. She felt that Evan actually did deserve getting yelled at, and finally, she was thinking if that Evan was her son, she would have told him off a long time ago.
Nonetheless, some people are more sensitive than others, and are more socially inept than others, so Maria still decided to help him out. She prepared the couch for him, started preparing food for him and gave him tips and advice about getting a job. Maria, still on work time, had to go back and continue working throughout the day, she did feel relief though, happy that the situation was not more serious than she thought.
After work, Mike and Maria went to work at helping Evan out. They talked to Evan about fixing up his CV, and Maria even had a direct contact to a team lead at a company that Evan really wanted to work at. It wasn’t the best paying job, but it was a very good start, considering what Evan had been doing for the past 2 years. She told him to start small, but to start right away, and not to procrastinate.
Evan would slowly pick up the pace and search for jobs online via links suggested by Mike and Maria. Evan was really out of sync with the world; he had no idea how to even begin, which was boggling, since he came from a very good family. He had all he needed to grow up into a well-rounded adult, he was a very intelligent individual too, yet he still struggled so much to do the most basic things, such as look for a job after graduating University.
So for the next 3 days, Maria cooked 2 meals a day for him, Mike sacrificed his laptop for Evan so that he could use it to look for jobs, which he did not always use it for, and the two would constantly give him advice and encouraging words. Maria even brought Evan to a job agency in the lobby of the building to see if anything was available.
On that Friday night, Mike and Maria told each other it was time to bring Evan home. Surely, not only were his parents worried, but having a guy who hadn’t bathed in 3 days in their home was starting to get a little unhygienic. Evan was taken aback with the decision, but he had no choice. He finally got home, and his mom opened the door and let him in; he looked like a scared puppy, but Maria knew he would be OK in that house.
A job and a social life – finally!
After a few days, Evan told Maria that he had gotten the job from the contact that she had given him, and that he would start in the next week or so. Maria was thrilled that he could finally move on from doing nothing to being useful in this society. Evan was also starting to talk to Mike and Maria more and more, becoming how he used to be, as when Maria first met him. Maria even invited Evan out for an annual camping trip which turned out to be a success.
A job turns into a career
The first job that Evan had gotten was not the best paying one and there were only so many hours that were given to him each week. Maria just told him to not give up; this was just a means to get a little bit of experience and some money before landing a better job. She kept telling him to continue applying to hundreds of places, and to go to interviews, and that the process could take awhile before getting a suitable full-time job.
After about a couple of months working at the same job and not hearing anything back from any of the other places that Evan had applied to, Mike offered Evan an opportunity at his workplace (a very large corporation) that seemed suitable for Evan. Mike asked Evan for his CV, and personally handed it to his old boss who was looking for someone to work on her team. After a few days of interviews and waiting, Evan eventually got the job. It was a full-time contract position in Evan’s field of study, with a very good salary. Evan was finally out of his funk, and he seemed happier than ever.
Thank you, no thank you
Evan is the type of guy with a very “unique” sense of humour, that can rub people the wrong way. He is also the type of guy that can get offended very easily.
Evan was happy that things were looking up for him, but Maria and Mike were hoping that he’d show a bit of gratitude or some sign that he appreciated all of the help. Not wanting to appear pushy, Maria and Mike joked about having Evan having to treat Mike and Maria for a nice dinner as a thank you. Evan finally made the official invitation by email, but as he did not want to take up too much of his time, he picked a spot right next to his work and told Maria that she could join them by taking the subway. Maria responded with a joke about the woman always having to do the extra work, but she did accept the invitation and asked for more info about the place and time. She was very grateful, but half expecting something like that since she had done so much for Evan.
Evan is the type of guy which makes a lot of weird jokes that can offend other people, but he gets very easily offended in turn. To Maria’s surprise, Evan had responded to Maria’s answer with a very harsh response that was very disrespectful toward someone that had taken him into her home, with no joke intended. It was extremely uncalled for; even Mike was stunned about his response, and replied to Evan with something that was equally harsh. Evan was uncompromising and refused to back down from his offense. This created a lot of tension and led to the friendship to come to an end.
Maria and Mike were shook up and very frustrated; here was a guy that had not communicated with them for more than a year, came begging at their door for a place to stay and for a job; all was provided for him beyond his expectations and they didn’t even get a thank you in return. Maria had regretted saying what she said in the email to have gotten Evan so worked up, but her statement was by no means so harsh as to deserve what she had gotten back from Evan.
Maria and Mike both regretted all that they had done for this guy, especially since now Mike had to work in the same place as Evan. Evan even dared say that he was doing just fine before he came to Maria and Mike, and that he had been much better off before he had come to them for help. This was the last straw for the couple, they both agreed to just let him have his way.
He was up on his feet, he had extracted as much as he could from both Maria and Mike, and so he could very well live his life without them. He was taking and taking, but giving nothing back. Not to mention that in prior years, where he was always invited to social events, whatever he brought to the party… snacks, cakes, etc… he would bring back home with him, though he would always eat/drink all that was provided at the event by the host. He would expect a lift home without even asking or ever offering to pay for gas, and he openly insulted Maria’s friends from time to time, yet Maria forgave him since she knew he was on the awkward side and not necessarily trying to be malicious, and she tried to show him acceptance and kindness.
Forgive or Forget?
Since Evan was a non-reciprocal friend, he is easy to just forget. He is the type of person that will take from you until he gets what he wants and needs, and will have no idea how to thank you properly. These types of “friends” feel entitled, and if you help them, you will end up feeling used and taken advantage of.
Moral of the story: With a non-reciprocal taker, give them a hand, they will take your whole arm, and spit it back in your face. So, don’t give too much to any friend in this category.
Kevin’s Thoughts: I believe in charity and I believe in the power of giving, but I also believe that ultimately, that the person receiving the love must show some love and gratitude back. In any relationship, whether it is a friendship, a love, or a family bond, there must be reciprocity in emotional terms. That reciprocity helps build a strong bond that can survive the test of time and last for ages, through thick and thin. If the help is neither wanted nor appreciated, then one person will eventually feel used and taken advantage of, while the other will feel entitled or indifferent.
In my own personal experience, there are Evans and then there are the opposites of Evans. For the anti-Evans, I will run 10 miles for them and I will still feel good about it, simply because I know that I am making a difference, and that the help is appreciated, and wanted. Mutual reciprocity is a win-win situation, and both people are better off for it.