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Do You Know How Generous You Are?

Aug 17, 2007
Driving the carpool for another parent or loaning a friend money for a taxi - these are acts of kindness, otherwise known as favors. However, there is another kind of favor - the unintentional kind.

While I was driving to work, people who sell gas, tires and cars were on the receiving end of my previously unrecognized kindness. They all profited from my using up the life expectancy of their products. Starbucks profited from my consuming its product while I was driving.

It may be hard to believe, but we do favors for lawyers also. Having a disagreement with a neighbor, backing into a car, divorcing a spouse are examples - but one could think of a divorce as an unintentional favor for oneself too.

Doctors are another group who benefit. My pain is their gain. If I buy shoes that look better than they feel, the podiatrist benefits. If I don't ask for help carrying the groceries, the chiropractor benefits. Because I had children, both the obstetrician and the makers of headache medicines benefited. In fact, having children exponentially multiplied the kind acts I did for manufacturers of clothes and shoes, pediatricians and orthodontists, General Mills and Johnson & Johnson.

I break a nail, spill coffee on my suit, stuff too many clothes into the washing machine - the number of businesses that profit from me daily is endless.

One day leads to the next and eventually I'll be unintentionally doing favors for opticians, hearing specialists and plastic surgeons. Because I'll start forgetting things, I'll be unintentionally helping my local government via parking tickets.

Even doing something intentionally can have an unintentional benefit. When we decided to add a dog to our family, we adopted a poodle. Zachary is dander-free because he doesn't shed. Because he doesn't shed, his fur continually grows, which results in the groomer benefiting from my allergy every six weeks.

The thrift store is on the other end of the spectrum. It benefits from Cousin Walter only twice a year - right after my birthday and Christmas. One year both gifts were non-electric, coffee pots. The doubling was definitely unintentional, but I'm not sure either were favors.

I'd pat myself on the back for being such a generous person, but that could cause me to be too generous to the physical therapist. Because the last unintentional favor I'll do will be for a mortician, I'm going to intentionally enjoy every day!
About the Author
KNIGHT PIERCE HIRST takes humorous looks at life.
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http://knightwatch.typepad.com
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