Thursday, March 11, 2010

Inquiring mind wants to know

When someone does you a favor for which you did not ask, do you make specifications?

i.e. if you're going to fold my laundry, please do it this way ... if you're going to cut my grass, don't forget the side yard ... if you're going to make me dinner, please don't make seafood ... if you're going to help me out, will you actually help me out?

My philosophy at the moment is: embarrassment wins. I can't bring myself to make qualifications or requests when someone is serving me out of the Christian goodness of their hearts - and then I go back and re-do it the way I like it.

Am I wrong? What do you think?

35 comments:

Hilary said...

Such a tough one -- I'm more of an 'embarrassment wins' kinda person too. Except when it comes to meals -- I will specify we're not big sea food people, and even offer suggestions if asked, just 'cause as someone who's brought in my fair share of meals, I'd like the meal to be palatable to the family I'm attempting to serve! (My favorite postpartum period was when we lived in a ward where people would just swing by Costco and buy a deli meal that just had to be thrown in the oven, or a rotisserie chicken with sides, or grab some Macaroni Grill or Olive Garden to go, and drop it off. So yummy!)

LisAway said...

Now THERE is a good question. I suppose you aren't supposed to, unless it comes up or you can request naturally or you know the person really well. I hate that. That's just the kind of thing that makes me wish I was more easy-going/less picky. Like, for example NOBODY EVER HELP ME BAG MY GROCERIES. It is an art. One that only I know, apparently. Ugh.

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

When I fold someone's laundry, I try to fold it as they would (asking or investigating), and I also try to get info on food likes and dislikes, and especially allergies first.

I don't think it is a bad thing to let someone know if there is a certain food that will just be wasted- but for the others- you pretty much have to let them serve to the best of their ability (unless they are really close friends/family) I am not at all shy about telling people to please not touch my laundry as far as washing and drying goes as I am rather a control freak in that area.

InkMom said...

Oy. This is tough. There's a woman in our ward who qualifies everything -- like, she asks for compassionate service and then adds on this list: no tomatoes, no paprika, no gluten, no soy, no onions, no dairy . . . I could go on, but you get the picture. I'm not exactly sure what to make her for dinner except for unseasoned rice and some whole apples. I know there are legitimate health concerns in there somewhere, but the kinds of food she needs are absolutely outside of my repertoire!

I know I can really only help this dilemma from the other side. For example, if I help fold someone's laundry, I always ask if there is a particular way they like things done. I mean, if I don't fold my towels just right, they don't fit in the closet. And if I don't hang up all the twins' pants, jeans included, there's no room in their drawers for anything else. Because I know I am particular, I make it a point to figure out how best to help those I'm serving so they don't have to redo my work once I'm out the door.

But really? I have been known to redo things. But also, I've been much better about letting things go this time around. Dishwasher isn't loaded the way I like it to be? No sweat. After all, someone is helping me out and the point is for my load to be lessened. It has taken a great deal of effort on my part to NOT redo things that have been done for me in love and sincerity.

That's my story.

Pam said...

I feel that it should be common courtesy when especially in the topics of service you talked about, that you ask the person ,is there anything your family does not like, do you have a specific way you like you laundry folded, is there anything i need to be aware of with your lawn before i start cutting. My husband though has ingrained in me that if someone else does it for you then it is the right way. This was hard for me to learn but has been a lesson that has been worth learning for me. I guess I am more like InkMom

Kristi said...

I hear ya - after multiple times of having postpartum meals dropped off at 9:00 PM (sometimes consisting of a cake and rolls - no joke) we now are a little less embarrassed to ask for a little.
For me - laundry and cleaning things I just let go... they have to be done again so soon anyway that by the time I could get around to worrieng whether things were folded correctly or put in the right drawers, they were already in the dirty clothes hamper anyway...
I would let people know if there are allergies and if I was going to accept meals I would ask for them before 6:00 (Pretty PLEASE). But with babies #3 & #4 I just made zillions of frezzer meals and left one with a friend that she put in the oven for me the afternoon we were coming home. I got a "merry maid" to come clean the bathrooms while I was in labor so.... really there wasn't too much to do. I just HATE asking for help and hate people feeling like they have to.
Our RS pres told me "THANK YOU! Women know for 9 months that they are having a baby - they should be able to put some meals in the freezer and plan ahead a bit".... BUT that is just me and I am weird!
I think anyone that is kind enough to offer to help is also understanding enough to do things the way you need/want them done.
Sorry for the Novella. ;)

Julie said...

I always wonder about this one, too. I don't want to be *that* lady that no one wants to serve because she's so picky. If they ask then it's perfectly fine to be specific. If they don't... well, I always try to flip situations around and put myself into the shoes of the other person. Would I mind if they said/did that?

Yeah. I got nothing else.

P.S. So that package of cod fillets I put in the mail three weeks ago probably won't be appreciated?

Amanda said...

I would say that if it's a one-time thing, you let it go, but if it's happening more than once, then you have a right to suggest how to do it properly. I would personally try to bring it up in a conversation, but that's not always easy. Or you can do it alongside of them and hope they catch on to how you're doing it.

That's all I got. :)

Perpetual Mommy Exhaustion said...

I'm glad Julie commented. I was going to tell you to ask her about her towels. Ask her. It's funny.

j@nAe said...

Once the act is done, you should shut your mouth and be gracious. But before, when they're in the moment of asking or some easy transition like that, I think you can - and SHOULD - specify. I mean, if someone unloads your dishwasher but doesn't put anything where it goes, what help is that? When they ask, you show them where cups, plates, silver wear, etc. go, and ask that anything they're unsure about be placed on the counter. People try to serve to help you, and if they only make things harder on you, then you aren't really blessed by their service. I would think most people actually want some direction. In fact, when I make dinner for people, I often ask if they have any allergies, extreme dislikes, or preferences. And I appreciate if they say they love anything with chicken.

MommyJ said...

I'm kind of a let things go kinda person... my laundry is all pretty much unfolded when the kids put their stuff away anyway, so I don't really care how it gets folded. Towels? Maybe, if I were really feeling the need to be organized, I'd refold them. But probably not. I'd probably just stick them in the closet and fold them the right way the next time they're washed. I couldn't care less about how my dishwasher is loaded, and as far as food goes, if I didn't have to make it, I'm sure it's probably good. :)

BUT. That doesn't mean there aren't some things I would probably speak up on. I'm pretty sure my husband would want to speak up on how the grass is cut. I don't know. I think if someone asked, I would offer specifics and preferences. If not, I'd probably just let it go.

Wonder Woman said...

Depends on the favor, IMO. Cutting grass, folding laundry -- I get over it. I've had people doing my dishes for the last two weeks. As you know, I HATE dishes, so I've been happy to let other do them. The only problem is that they haven't been as clean -- I've had to rewash a few myself. But I wouldn't dare tell anyone.

The biggest exception I can see for you right now is the meals. If your babies have had problems with you eating spicy food in the past, I'd mention it. Or if you really hate seafood. Or if one of your kids is allergic to MSG and can't have creamy soups. When it comes to ingesting things, I think you can make a specification.

That said......I'd have a hard time doing it, too.

Melissa Bastow said...

Oh man, I totally know what you're talking about. I do the same thing - I don't say anything just to get annoyed and redo whatever it was. I like it when people help, and I didn't think I was picky about stuff. But then someone comes in and surprises me in the TOTAL WRONGNESS of which they do things and I can hardly contain myself. But yeah, I probably would say that if someone is going to help you should just let them do it their way - at least I wouldn't want to be corrected if I was doing service (but then again I do it all right anyway.)

Deb said...

When they ask (because they should), I think you should think of the most important thing, the thing that you just can't stand, and say that one thing, and let the rest go.

So, if you are very particular about the way your laundry is folded, ask them to come over and load the washer and dryer for you, but bring you the baskets so you can fold while you lie on the couch/sit in the chair, whatever. And they can do the hanging up.

If they are offering to bring you a meal and ask what you guys like, you say, "Oh, we're easy, and we really love spaghetti/fried chicken/sloppy joes," etc. Or, "You know, whatever you can bring is wonderful, but Mr. Squishy really hates tomato sauce/spicy food/orange food/whatever."

When I'm offering service, I do try to get an idea of what I can do to help. It only becomes annoying when it is a laundry list (ha!) of demands. If you keep your requests simple and stick to what is really important, you might not feel so badly and you might get some help you can actually use.

Happy Mom said...

I talk big (in private), but get embarrased when faced with an actual person and I would totally wimp out and redo it after they left.

Fun question!

Joni said...

Hmm. I have little to say about your question. My strategy. Hint as much as possible and then get out of the way.

I just wanted to tell you that based on your sidebar we also have eerily similar tastes in books.

This is getting creepy.

rori said...

OH, I love Rodin! Have you been to his museum in Paris? I guess I'm not answering the question....am I am trouble?!?

Kimberly said...

I'm just going to say ditto to what InkMom said. Some great insights in the comments here!

Anne said...

I haven't run into this situation before- with someone serving me (outside of my family), because I am just not one to ask for help. (Is that good or bad? Who knows..)
But when my hubby helps out, and folds the towels very strangely (after I've explained exactly how to fold them), I let it go. If they are taking time to serve me, then does it really matter how it's done?

Kazzy said...

On somethings I would need it done a certain way, but not on most. I have a friend that had her MIL stay with her for awhile, and one day did all of her laundry, folded it and put it away. But my friend redid everything because she said you do not wash jeans and towels together. I say that was about WAY more than the laundry. Know what I mean?

Rachel Sue said...

I'm with you. I don't say anything-- unless it's food. We have a few food allergies at our house, so when that happens I do mention that. Otherwise, I sit back and give thanks!

The Prices said...

I agree with the majority...if they ask, then request away, otherwise enjoy the service and I'd say even try really hard to not re-do it.

Qait said...

Yep... I learned pretty quickly after I got married that my husband's idea of folding is completely wacko. I mean, um, different...
The first time he folded the towels for me, I redid them (my excuse was they'd fit on the shelf better my way). But I realized that was thoughtless of me. So the next time, I showed him how I do it (and why), and I left it at that.
He still folds wonky towels, but he tries. So I appreciate it, and I leave them all crazy because it reminds me that HE did it, not me. I think that's sweet and romantic.
(Of course, when someone you love less than your spouse is helping you, well...you just have to try harder to appreciate it). :D

elesa said...

No, you are right. If they are really helping just to be nice, I think you let them be nice and then fix it later. Or don't fix it. It probably doesn't matter very much anyway.

Stepper the Mighty said...

Nope, I think you're exactly right. the point is that they are willing to serve, and you are willing to be served. Go back and do it how you like, later.

Unless it's a hubby or kids. THen teach 'em the right way, or you'll forever be re-doing.

That or, y'know, learn to like THEIR way. (snort!)

rad6 said...

You crack me up... just leave it and enjoy the flaw!!!! it will remind you that you are loved!
Perfectionism is for the birds... or at least the childless!
haha.

Lisa S said...

The whole point of compassionate service is to help women make and keep connections with women they might not interact with all the time. Bringing in meals to a new mother is more about service and not about the meal itself. I am the comp. service leader in my ward and don't take no for an answer. To me it's all about the service, bearing one another's burdens. Yes a mother to be has nine months to prepare....but what fun is that to not let someone bring a yummy meal and visit the new baby. If you are the one offering the service...ask the recipient some specifics so there are no misunderstandings.

DeNae said...

Look at you, all Rodin-esque! My thinking is yes to specifying allergies if one is cooking you dinner. No to everything else, unless their 'help' is permanent. I wouldn't fuss over the way clothes are being folded when I know they're going to just be worn and washed all over again. On the other hand, if someone came in and offered to paint my house, I'd probably have one or two things to say about how they did it!

Amber said...

Some of us don't have big enough freezers to PUT freezer meals in. Just sayin'.

As for your question--I guess I get frustrated when help turns into a hindrance. For example, when someone does you laundry and shrinks all your clothes? Not good. Or dries stains into the clothes? Also not good. That means I have to go out and buy more clothes. That takes money. Oh the frustration.

And dishes? Oh man. I don't have a dishwasher, so when people volunteer to help around the house I usually direct them to other places, like folding laundry. I would much rather have them fold laundry, clean my bathroom, vacuum, or mop my floors than clean my dishes or do my laundry. I just can't eat off of dirty dishes.

Rocketgirl said...

I've found the best solution is just to give everybody cash. Doesn't matter the occasion, it always works and everyone loves it!! I'm super popular at church.

Just SO said...

I have no problem specifying food stuff. And honestly? The people bringing in the food should call and ask about food allergies and preferences.

The other stuff? I'm not all that picky. So I would just be happy to have it done....however it was done.

The Wingnut's said...

I look at it as a lesson in life. An opportunity to learn something new about my friend/ neighbor. How many ways can a towel be folded? There actually may be a better way than the way I have done it for the last thirty years!
Accept the service, check it out and grin and bear it! The world is a much nicer place when someone has been served with love!

Charlotte said...

I accept the service and leave it as is. It's good practice for teaching your kids chores. It won't be done perfectly or just the way you would, but it is done!

The person I find it hardest to not correct is my husband. But my mother was a go back and redo Dad's work person and I learned all that gets you is less offers to help.

It helps that I am not a germaphobe in any way so if it isn't perfectly clean, it isn't going to bug me too much.

Tobi said...

I'm so bossy and opinated that I just tell them how I want it done. I even taught several people how I like my towels folded. Yeah that's me...full of tact and social manners.

Michelle said...

I think it can really depend on the situation. Folding laundry, washing the dishes differently than I would, no big deal, I can live with one load of laundry not folded to my specifications (unless your my husband and I have "taught" you the "proper" way to fold towels many, many times over the last 8 years). If you are asking to bring over dinner I will tell you flat out we don't do seafood of any variety in this house. I am a picky eater (remember I would bring my own spaghettios to girls camp?) and don't expect people to completely cater to my tastes but I wouldn't want them to bring something that no one in the house eats at all.

As a person performing a service, I would like to be helpful and not make matters that much worse so I would much prefer someone speak up if something I am doing is really bothering them.