I never tire of hearing the phrase:

“Thanks!  I owe you one!”

Especially from the people who mean it.

But I deeply dislike being the one who owes a favor to someone else.

Especially from the people who intend to collect… with interest.

I’m not talking about picking up someone’s dry cleaning because they gathered the mail the weekend we were out of town.  No, no.  I’m talking about helping landscape their yard for an entire season because they graciously loaned me an egg when the cake needed to go into the oven on time, so my dinner guests wouldn’t be eating boxed pudding for dessert.

I am delighted to help out a friend.  Ecstatic even!  But that happiness turns into determination when the friend causally mentions the time they brought popsicles by the house when I had the flu… and aren’t I so pleased for the opportunity to repay their kindness.  Yeah, that’s not kindness.  That’s ridiculous.

Here’s the truth of the matter.  I like being “owed one” because I will never collect.  E-V-E-R.

And, really, would you?

Would you actually remind a friend that you watched her two offspring last month for the purpose of forcing her to baby-sit for you because it’s Valentine’s Day, and you didn’t plan ahead enough reserve your own paid help?  If you are thinking, “Sure!  She OWES me one!”— there is something broken in your humanity.

But you’re not that type of person.  You offer to have a family to dinner even when they’ve never invited you to dinner.  You bring the extra apple pie to her Independence Day party even when she forgot to pick up the birthday cake for your child’s surprise party.

That’s you.

The good friend.