A Favor, or a Job?

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me, with 3 short weeks in a row, a little bit of time away, and an overwhelming workload at work. I’ll admit to being completely and utterly lazy this weekend. Ah well, everybody needs a weekend just to laze around and relax! Right?

There was one thing that happened over the course of my mini-vacation that has me wondering: What’s the difference between a favor, and a job? Money? Relationships?

I’m pretty open about the fact that I have a hard time asking for help. I’m fairly independent, and I really hate the idea of putting people out. I’ll admit, I’ve let it get a little out of hand. It’s not just asking friends and family for help that bothers me. It’s asking anyone for anything that might disrupt their day, even if it’s their job, and I’m paying them to do so. I hate scheduling appointments to get my hair done, since I can only do so on evenings and weekends. Most of the good stylists set their own hours, so I feel like I’m taking away from their personal time. Same for scheduling appointments to groom the dog (not that I’ve found anyone willing to groom her). It’s crazy, I know. It’s the job they’ve chosen, and that job means working a lot of evenings and weekends. But I still feel bad.

The issue recently all came down to the dog. Or more precisely, what to do with the dog when we went on our trip. We could have taken her with us; The resort we stayed in allowed pets, and the friends we visited were more than willing to have her come. In fact, she came with us the last time we visited. But I really wanted to relax for a few days, and not have to constantly worry about working our schedule around letting the dog out, or worrying about how she was coping with all the changes. Hannah’s a bit of a spazz, and she doesn’t always deal well with change.

So, I asked one of my sisters if she could watch the dog while we were gone. She said she didn’t have any plans for the weekend. Her kids were with their Dads for the weekend, so she’d be completely free. I don’t even think she’s working right now, so she didn’t even have to work around a job. She recently moved into a less than ideal living arrangement, so I offered to let her stay at my house while I was away. Not a requirement, mind you, but an option if she wanted it. And, for the inconvenience, I told her I’d pay.

The payment part is a sticking point between BF and I. One of my siblings will typically watch my dog if I go out of town, and I always pay. The BF says that helping each other out is what family should do, and I shouldn’t be paying them to help me. In my opinion though, I’m putting them out by asking them to take care of my dog, and therefore I should compensate for that. And my hope is that Hannah will be better cared for if money is involved. Although, honestly, that hasn’t always been the case.

My going rate is $20 per day. They’re also free to stay at the house, eat my food, and drink whatever they want. For this vacation, I paid my sister $100, which included payment for the day we left (late afternoon) and the day we returned (early afternoon). I know she doesn’t have money right now, and for several days I’d be out of cell phone range. I didn’t want to run into issues with her not having gas money to come to my house or anything ridiculous like that, so I left the money in advance. And there was my downfall.

I got a message at the start of our trip asking if she could have my cousin check on the dog Saturday night, as she’d made plans. Fine. Then came a message asking if she could take the dog out of town. A friend had offered to pay her to watch their teenager for a few days. Um…well…I guess? Next thing I know, I’m getting a message that an ex-boyfriend of hers is watching the dog, as she’s going boating for the long weekend. That was the last I heard before my cell service cut out. So much for my relaxing weekend!

In the end, I had essentially given my sister party money for the weekend, and she had pawned the dog off on someone else, for free. I can’t even get a straight answer about who was watching the dog, and I’m not sure whether the dog stayed at my house or not. Did some random stranger have free access to my house while I was out of town? I’ve met some of her friends, and honestly, 90% of them are the type of people I wouldn’t even want to know where I live! Much less have a key to my house!

Admittedly, I feel a bit taken advantage of. And it really isn’t helping my already waning sense of security in living alone. It’s all gotten me thinking: What is the difference between a favor, and a job? Was I asking my sister for a favor, in watching my dog? Or does the fact that I was paying her make it a job? Was I putting her out by expecting her to check on my dog at least twice a day over a Holiday weekend? Or do I have a right to expect she live up to her end of the bargain, money or no money?

I walk a fine line with my siblings in order to maintain some sort of a relationship with them. BF says that I make it too easy for them to walk all over me. I’m upset with what happened, but I’m trying to move on for the sake of our relationship. But I realize in the future I need to make other arrangements for the dog. Take her with us? Board her?

What would you have done in this situation? How do you balance relationships and disappointment?

– Cindy W.

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