Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some people pay a lot more to feel better about themselves...

As an eBay seller, I don't get the same type of social camaraderie that most people get at their 9 to 5 job where other employees gather around a water cooler or whatever and chat.

So I get my chat on with other eBay sellers on an assortment of forums and facebook groups.  And those groups are awesome.  I honestly would not be the seller I am today if it weren't for the wealth of knowledge that these ladies share. Mostly ladies... there are some men, too.

Anyhow, so I frequent a forum specifically for clothing sellers on eBay and, just like any gathering of strong women with varied opinions, things can get a little heated sometimes.

I guess around Christmastime, one of the members posted that she was going through a rough time.  She was having a hard time paying her bills, her eBay fees were due, and her ability to sell and make any money at all was going to be compromised.  Other members rallied around her and started sending her small PayPal payments to help out.  Five dollars, ten dollars, whatever they could safely give.

And this member who was going through this rough time was able to pay her fees or her Internet bill or whatever it was that she needed to pay and keep on selling.

Fast forward to the past week or so and this same member comes along and starts posting little conversational things about getting a new dog, replacing the furniture in her house, getting a new roof on her (4000 square foot) house and all kinds of stuff.

And feathers start to get ruffled.  People felt like they were scammed.  How, in less than 6 months, did this member get back on her feet to the point where she can afford to buy furniture and replace a roof?

People started questioning her, asking her if she planned to pay back the people who had helped her in the past, basically accusing her of taking advantage of the generosity of the board.

And maybe I shouldn't even have an opinion about it. I don't remember the original post and I didn't donate any money to her cause, but I'm like all those women with strong opinions so I'm going to talk about it, anyway.

I question the generosity of the people who are upset.  It seems to me that if I give someone a few bucks to get back on their feet, that's exactly what I want them to do.  I hope that the money I give to them will help them over whatever rough patch they are going through and be able to live their life in a normal fashion.  I'm not going to begrudge them comfort once they do get back on their feet. 

Upon reading further into the situation, I noticed that this seller commented on her "new" furniture and how she was shopping for it at a thrift store.  She talked about replacing her roof and having it financed because the old one had been leaking.  And I know that a lot of these other women, the ones who are all up in arms and questioning whether their little loans are going to be repayed, have read these same things.

Unless I specifically state that this money is a loan, I don't expect it back.  I don't expect that once this person gets back on their feet they're going to send my ten dollars back. And I certainly don't question someone buying a couch at the Goodwill and replacing an old, leaky roof.

When you give someone a gift, you give it to them without strings.  You don't remind them constantly that you helped them, you don't give them fifteen dollars and a side of guilt, you just give.

But it seems like there are so many people who have some sort of checklist going on in their heads.  They're tallying up everything they've ever done for anyone else and then using those "brownie points" as leverage at a later date. As far as I know, this woman never asked for help.  She never begged for money.  People gave it to her out of their own free will.  And they wouldn't have done it if it didn't do something for them, too. 

Once I was having a conversation with Jenny about panhandlers.  In South Florida we have panhandlers all over the place.  Jenny has an interesting view on them.  She looks at them as if they are providing a "feel good" service.  Say that today I'm not feeling so good about myself.  I can give a couple bucks to a panhandler and poof! I've done a good deed and can now feel better about myself. 

Most days I don't need that service, but isn't it nice that it's there just in case I'm really feeling like I'm a crappy person one day?

So when those members started sending their friend little payments to help her out, they got to experience that "feel good" service.  Bought and paid for.  No refunds.