OK, so I belong to an e-mail list that’s pretty much a community. We exchange advice, commiseration, jokes, etc. (And we use our real names, links to our Web sites, and sometimes even contact info; so we’re not a bunch of anonymous doofuses. And I’m confident that the following was not a scam.)
Right around Christmas last year one of the members threw herself a little pity party about how badly her finances were going. Not a problem in itself, we all whine about this or that from time to time, somebody says, “It’ll be OK,” and that’s it. But somebody got up the idea that maybe some of us could send her a little something via PayPal. I hadn’t interacted with her much myself, but she was an active member, I’d had a good couple of months, it was Christmas Eve and I was still glowing from our annual gathering, and I had a couple of hundred extra bucks in my account that I had no particular plans for. So ho ho ho, I sent her fifty bucks. (The suggestion was $1 to $5, or maybe $10.) I figured that oughta help make her day.
Apparently it did, because the next day her husband posted with a general “Wow, thanks” message directed to everyone in the group. OK, cool, I wasn’t the only one.
But I never got any personal acknowledgment of my donation. According to PayPal, it went through just fine. After a few weeks, I sent a polite note, hoping that things were improving and wondering whether my contribution (which had shown up on my bank statement) was helpful at all. I was polite and concerned, but I admit that I was going for a little nudge. No response.
Over this past year she’s been a contributor to the list, talking about various things (and successes), so I know she hasn’t dropped off the face of the earth.
Today was kind of a kicker, though. Today she posted to the list to thank (quite effusively) whoever had sent her – anonymously, but because of the signature obviously someone from the list – a box of treats and a card, for no apparent reason.
Is it petty of me to think, “Hey, how come a box of goodies from some anonymous person gets you spewing thanks all over everything, but you couldn’t be arsed to at least acknowledge the receipt of fifty bucks out of the blue from a total stranger WHOSE NAME YOU HAVE?” I can’t help thinking that if I had been HER last Christmas Eve, after I pulled myself together I would have been falling all over myself making sure that I slobbered over each and every person who sent even one dollar thanking them for their generosity. The “thanks” post from her husband kind of struck me as a quickie, appropriate as an addition to personal thanks, but by itself it’s more like a photocopied note on the company bulletin board.
I know that the idea of a gift is to give because you want to. But the flip side of that is that I’M always grateful for gifts I receive, and I express that. Especially when the scope or the source of the gift is so unexpected. I don’t expect her to kiss my ass; a simple, “Hey, thanks so much for the gift, we really appreciated it” would suffice.
I’m not pissed about the money. I gave it in good spirit and I didn’t (and still don’t) need it. But the aftermath kind of soured me. I should probably just write it off as a lesson learned and move on, forget it, let it go. (I’d still be reminded every time I saw her name in my inbox, though.) But I’m sooo tempted to send her a quick e-mail quoting today’s post and asking, “Say, this reminds me, did my fifty bucks last Christmas ever actually make it through to you? PayPal said so, but you can’t always count on them. Just wondering.”
I just know it would be mean and petty of me, and I should probably be talked out of it because it would make me a total ass, right?
<donning asbestos undies>