Guys, do you ever get tired of being the go-to muscle? (a bit long)

I can’t count the number of times I’ve helped friends move, I do that gladly though, that’s what friends are for right? Other forms of heavy lifting, various home repair, tree related yard work, some hauling of junk, have all been things I’ve been asked to help with. I don’t have any problem with helping. When it gets excessive in terms of frequency or level of labor, I start feeling not as willing to help.

I’ve helped friends move into third story apartments with heavy furniture, I’ve helped people move in the hottest August weather, and once in the dead cold of February (I was only wearing a t-shirt, I was that over heated). I’m no stranger to discomfort, and I’m happy to help ease the burden of my friends. Usually.

My friend calls me tonight and asks if I’m doing anything. There were a few plans that fell through at the last moment, so said no. He asked if I could help him with something. I said sure, what do you need help with. He said he needed someone to hold up the drywall while he screwed it into the studs. I said ok. How much drywall do you need to hang? Enough to cover the basement.

That was shaping up to be a decent amount of work. I still agreed to do it. He called later and asked if I could stop by his place at nine pm. I had obligations that were remnant from the previous ones that didn’t materialize, so we agreed to do it another time.

I can’t believe I agreed to do it, given my schedule for the next day. Get up early, drive down to OSU campus, find a parking spot, trek to the stadium, leave right after the game, try to make it to band practice on time, then be at the bar where our gig is just a couple hours later. From 8am to at least 1am, I had about an hour or so where I wasn’t busy with something. Granted, three of those hours would be watching the Buckeyes pound the Akron Zips, but I’d still most likely be standing the whole time.

I’ve known this guy for almost 14 years. I hired him the first time we met, he helped me get a job when we saw each other several years later, and I helped him get his current job. We’ve done numerous things as friends, but he tends to stay at home most of the time. Occasionally he’ll ask if I want to see a Blue Jackets game or something like that. It’s just that the last time he called me was to help him move a dozen or so solid steel I beams, from outside his house into his basement all without scratching anything. They were ten feet long, not an easy task. Hell he’s in MUCH better shape than I am, and he was asking for a break first. Now, the “favor” is hanging drywall. I know full well that I’ll get a “thanks” at the end of it. Were this an isolated incident, I’d just chalk it up to doing what friends are supposed to do.

The time I helped move someone in the heat of August was a friends mother in law. He promised pizza and beer, and I of course agreed to help out. That lady had the second largest UHAUL that they can rent out! What did she collect? Cookbooks! Those fuckers can get really tiresome to haul after the fortieth box or so. I wasn’t interested in the beer that day, water was my friend, at times I was almost out of breath. She did offer to pay me, and I refused. I was doing a favor, wasn’t being hired, and wasn’t there for the money. She forcefully insisted that I take it. I didn’t even look at the amount until I got back to my car. She overpaid me IMO, but probably saved a lot compared to having guys come out and do it for her.

The work, the time, and the potential compensation aren’t thing that I think about when helping a friend out, but the fact that my phone is going to ring first out of all of the people that might help, is starting to get a bit old. I still like helping my friends, I am just not that fond of my role, amongst some of them ,being the workhorse.

I’m not angry at all, I’m just starting to notice that of all of the people I know, of all of the circles of friends that I have, I am the universal constant as far as labor intensive favors go. I’m still glad to offer it, but man, can’t someone else step up for a change?

They keep calling you because you keep saying yes. Try saying no the next couple of times and see if you still have friends.

By the way, I have this ceiling fan needs putting up, and I was wondering…

It’s not a question of whether I will still have friends or not, they’ll still be there. Declining favors for others has been a problem of mine though. I can’t just say “No.”, but I can use some advice on how to decline such a proposition tactfully though.

How about saying something like, “I’m sorry but I’m not feeling up to physical labour at the moment. Geez, I must be getting old!”

It sounds to me like you go out of your way to give the impression that you like helping out, being active, getting stuff done. Of course they are going to ask you first, since you think it’s a good time. I don’t understand the " can’t someone else step up for a change?" thing–other people are suppossed to somehow know that you’ve been asked to do a favor and enthusiastically agreed, and then call you and be like “dude, let me help instead. You stay home”?

I am that guy as well. Always the first one to be called when people need help moving, but my friends typically scatter like cockroaches in the kitchen when I have to move. To be fair, my best friend helped me move into my new apartment two months ago, but only because I was moving out of his house after he and his girlfriend decided they wanted the place to themselves. I have to admit, as much as I usually don’t mind helping, I get really annoyed when people decide my help is forthcoming no matter what.

I think the key is that the answer to “What are you doing tonight/tomorrow/next Saturday” is “I’ve got a few things lined up, why- what are YOU doing?” and let them say what’s what. If they say “Thinking about heading out for dinner, wanna join me?”, sweet. If they say “Digging a new latrine in the yard!” the answer is “Oh, I wish I could help but I’m reading to the blind/babysitting my nephew/not feeling well enough for that.”

I think the more elaborate the excuses, the worse off you are. I try to say “Oh, sorry- no can do!” and try to change the subject fast. If that doesn’t work, I pull out a no-fail excuse of being too busy with something else/having to get up at dark 30 in the morning/blah blah. After a few times, they won’t bother calling any longer.

I’m also repeater, not an explainer, which catches people off guard. “I’m sorry, I’m not really feeling up to that tonight.” But why? “I’m sorry, I"m not really feeling up to that tonight.” WHY?? “I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling up to that tonight.” lather, rinse, repeat as needed.

Try being that guy, with a pickup truck.

Yep, that’s me.

  1. Caller ID - Let the phone take it first. If the message mentions the word “help,” discard the call, and be “busy” if you’re dealing with an invasive request.

  2. Try redeeming some of this sweat equity karma - think in terms of reciprocity.

  3. Standard fee for this sort of help is some weighted combination of booze and food.

  4. There’s being a friend, and being used.

There’s a bumper sticker out there “Yes, this is my Pick-up truck. No- I will not help you move!” :smiley:

That’s my problem, too. Recently, there was a couple at my church who needed some help moving stuff around at their business. They needed to reduce their rent on their space, and so they were condensing things to take up less square footage. So the wife asked in front of the church for volunteers to help out, and so after church I offered my services (also, I’ve been carrying a torch for their daughter for some time, and she was back from college for summer break, so I figured this might be a way to get in good with her). I figured it was going to be a one- or two-day job.

It turned out to be a two week project, because in addition to moving things they were also putting in new walls, laying down flooring, and moving light fixtures. I helped out that first Sunday, but my very busy work schedule didn’t permit me to help out the rest of the week. I volunteered again the next Sunday, and helped out again that afternoon. I also made the mistake of mentioning that I had most of the rest of the next week off work, though I didn’t promise that I would be available to help out.

As it turned out, I was exhausted after my previous week’s work schedule (lots of long shifts), followed by helping these people on Sunday. I had Mon-Thur off from work, but had a prior commitment on Monday and had promised to take a couple of kids from my church to a movie (Ratatouille) on Thursday, along with some other errands that needed doing, which left only Tuesday and Wednesday free. So when this lady rang my cell phone on Tuesday, I saw who was calling and reluctantly decided to not answer it. I knew that if I answered it, I wouldn’t be able to say “no”, and I’d end up doing more heavy labor for two days when what I desperately needed was some rest. But I still felt rotten about it.

On the other hand, this woman didn’t help her own case. Though her husband is pretty laid back, she tends to be a dramatic, often shrill harpy. On the two occasions when I helped out with this project, I couldn’t help noticing that she didn’t do much actual work herself, but enthusiastically directed the few of us who showed up to help. Also, I was growing weary of repeatedly being addressed in the third person as “The ever-lovely Rik”. (Example: Assigning tasks to me and her daughter, “You [her daughter] do this, and the ever-lovely Rik can do that.” :rolleyes: )

My boyfriend and I were just discussing this issue, except a much more girly version. Sure, I love holding/feeding random babies, making food for parties, dishing up cake and ice cream, doing post-gathering clean up, etc. but it’s always expected. Seems like the helping obligation thing skips around between the rest of the females in my circle, yet it’s always my turn.

Working in a predominantly male environment, it’s the same thing at work. If there’s a birthday/death in the family/sickness of a coworker, the nearest female is supposed to arrange something, it’s assumed that during every group meal, the same female will cut the cake, serve the food, etc.

Honestly, I enjoy a lot of that stuff, I’d rather work in the kitchen and gossip than mingle with the rest of the party anyway. Just get fed up with 25 people enjoying a party and 3 people working their behinds off to make it enjoyable for everyone else.

Sometimes, it’s best to hire professionals, like for moves. For one thing, professional movers are paid to lift stuff. Plus they know how to do so without damaging your stuff or the walls. And they’re not reluctant to use stuff like furniture dollies, many of them if necessary. So instead of constantly lifting forty-something boxes of books, they’ll stack five or so on a dolly and then leave them on it until they get to the destination (perhaps using shrink wrap to hold it all together).

And drywall is heavy (eighty pounds a sheet, I think) and constantly holding it up against the wall or ceiling is exhausting. So a pro might use a drywall jack which one can also rent. So if you’re not going to hire professionals, at least use real tools for the job.

I second the recomendation of a drywall jack. Doing ceilings without one is nearly impossible with two men, especially if your friend is using 4x12 sheets instead of 4x8. Heck, with a jack he could do the job himself. and why the heck was he thinking he could start a drywalling project for a full basement at nine PM?! sheesh. that’s a two day job if you’ve done it before and a full week if you haven’t.

I used to be the go-to guy, although not so much with the labor - I was the guy all my friends called to dump their emotional problems on and to get advice. It got to the point where I was so wrapped up in everyone else’s drama, it was dragging me down.

I actually had some conversations with my friends that basically went, “I’ve been the go-to guy for awhile now, but it’s dragging me down. I want to be there for you when you need it, but I need you to try to find somebody else first. I need a break from being the go-to guy.” It was a scary conversation to start up because I thought I would upset some friends, maybe even cause some rifts in friendships. In actuality, though, it went very well, had the desired results, and earned me some additional respect and appreciation from my friends.

I am guilty of calling some friends often to help me move something. Today, I had a large weight-bench that needed to be out of the truck and onto the porch (at least) before I left for work. I called the guy who usually helps (this is because he is a close friend and only a block away when he’s home) but he was at work. I called the other guys I know to see if they could help. I didn’t need muscle, I needed someone to steer. The weight bench was extremely heavy on one end compared to the other (it has the pulley system weights, so the end with the weights is the bad one). I got a friend over, and the whole time he was there, I carried the heavier end. I didn’t care. I tried taking it out of the truck myself but it started falling on me and I shoved it back stable. I didn’t want to die.

Of course, these guys who I’ve done this two also know that if they call me at 3 am and need a ride, or something moved, they can get me to help out no problem. Also, the rule is that as long as they are around the house and help, they can get my help for whatever they need. They also may eat whatever we have and drink whatever we have. I have never considered it a problem for them, because I assume that if they had a problem they would tell me. I am pretty sure that is true. They ask you because you do it.


Well SOMEONE has to own those silly vehicles. That’s their use, you know.

Sometimes, a bumpersticker isn’t enough. Take a tip from a pro.

Being huge, hairy, and strong, I have been the “go-to muscle”, as you put it, many a time, for many people.

Some have abused the kindness, but most have not. My best friend, being tiny and female, is next to useless at moving, so I am basically on call for any heavy stuff ( I live just up the road), but in the last two years, when my ex threw me out on the street basically destitute, this friend: lined up a cheap rental flat with no need for interviews (I was guaranteed) and no bond/collateral required; gave me a microwave, gave me a washing machine, signed me up under her name and guarantee for one of those informal Vietnamese credit union schemes, gave me an old beater car, and lent me money - basically getting me back on my feet.

So I reckon I can lift a fridge or two and not clear the debt.
And I also do it for my sister, but that’s just because.

I never really get tired of it. I think most people you do favors like that for realize at least on some level that it’s a two-way road. Having lots of friends on call in case of emergencies is a good thing, I think.

And for those friends who impose on you a lot without helping you out in return when you need it tend to not be friends after a while because they’re usually assholes.