My grandfather had many sayings. As I got older he would share more of these sayings. They would get a little more “Adult fashioned” as I matured. There is one time that sticks out in my mind over all of the rest of them, and that is what I would like to share with you.
I took a train ride from Reno, NV all the way to State College, PA. It took us a few days to get there. In the midst of a booking mix up, we ended up getting a free room for the night in the Chicago Hilton. We met the 1996 or 97′ US Women’s Olympic Soccer Team and my celebrity crush, Mia Hamm. We then boarded a train and got right into Pennsylvania. This was the second time that I had visited the great state of PA. It was for my grandfathers sister’s 50th Wedding anniversary. That day will forever stick out in my mind. Because I do not think that I will ever attend a 50th weeding anniversary ever again. The party was great. I got to see all of the cousins, and aunts and uncles that I only heard about from family members. It’s very nice to put a name to a face. This wedding anniversary is where I had to chance to learn one of life’s most important rules from a truly amazing man and wife.
My aunt Kathrine and uncle William were the ones with this anniversary party in PA. They are not really my aunt or uncle but that is what we called them anyways because they are my mothers actual aunts and uncles. I think it was because of them that I am a sucker for hopeless romantic stories and what not’s. After their party, we headed back to their home. We stayed with them for a few days in their amazing home. After settling in and getting all comfy, we were on the main floor, in their bar room, shooting pool. My aunt was an amazing pool player. My uncle had this amazing bar laid out and from the outside, their house looked like a hotel with a bar out front. One time, a guy walked in and asked my uncle for a beer. He drank two or three and then my uncle said “I’m not going to charge ya, but this is my house and not an actual bar”. But that was the kind of guy he was. A very generous and caring guy.
During our pool game, my uncle called me over and handed me a $100 dollar bill. I was like nine or ten at the time. So to me, this was a grip load of cash. He then followed the handing me of money with this line. “Russell, I’m only going to say this once. So listen up. When you have money, people tend to ask you for favors or loans. That’s okay because everyone needs help from time to time. But I only help a person out one time. Even if they pay me back. It’s not because I am stubborn, It’s because they will keep coming back to you over and over again. And anyone who keeps coming back, is not worth keeping around your family and belongings. So if I help them once, and they don’t come back, I got rid of them for what ever amount of money I loaned them. If they come back, I simply say not this time and continue on with my day.”
My uncle ran one of the largest gas companies in PA. Kessinger Propane Inc is the name I think, after all it was their last name. He provided a service and from time to time, he would write off a persons propane bill. But then the next time they tried to get that same response, he had to shut off their services. I think that is where he got his saying from. So when he handed me that $100 dollar bill, he was not loaning me money, just simply giving me a gift. It was a few years later that both my uncle and aunt passed away. My grandfather many years later told me that story again and said that he lived by that same principle. He helped many of my real uncles friends land back on their feet. Hell, he helped my uncle time and time again and he still never got the point. I think, in a lot of ways, I inherited that trait from him. His son as well.
So why am I writing this?
Mostly because I spend a lot of time helping people solve their website problems free of charge. I have even donated my paid services free of charge and yet only one or two people actually took me up on it. I have spent a lot of money getting my start up off the ground. I have spent a lot of time learning the art of code and WordPress. I have anywhere from 10 to 40 emails a day from people asking for help. Now, if these were simple questions, I have no problem helping people. At the same time, none of the questions are simple. It’s usually a question about how to change code, or edit css files, or mock up page templates. I’ve spent more than enough hours helping and helping, only to get nothing back in return. Sure, they tag me in a facebook post here and there, but let me put it to you like this. When I was first learning WordPress, I would ask for help from some pretty amazing people. After they helped me, I would ask them for their paypal email address and I would send them what ever I could. $10 here, $20 there. Because they ran a business and they spent money and time learning their craft as well. So it’s only fair to compensate them for their time.
VegasGeek, a.k.a. John Hawkins, is one of the many people that I have asked for help. I would simply write him and asked if he had a few minutes to help me out. Even if he couldn’t, he could point me in the right direction. And for that, I would shoot him over a few dollars. Did he ask me to do that? No. Not at all. But at the same time, I wasn’t asking him on spare time, I was asking him on his company time. So it’s only fair.
So take this post for what it is worth. If you are going to ask for help, knowledge or wisdom, you should repay that person in one way or another.