Friday, July 22, 2011

When To Say "No"

My wise Bhudda this evening after I returned from my Friday Night Dine Out Group

The sun has set but the heavy blanket of heat and humidity is still laying on the land here in my home of choice, southern Delaware.  We're not used to this heat.

The temperatures here rose to 105 degrees.  And this isn't the "dry heat" of Arizona.  This is the heavy heat of Florida.  We're not used to this heat.  Man oh man.

So I ventured out into this oven of heat to meet with my friends for our weekly Friday Night Dine Out Group meeting.  This week we met at the Texas Bar and Grill on Long Neck Road, somewhere down near the Indian River Bay (I don't remember the name of the community.)

The Texas Grill on Longneck - it's OK but I wouldn't make a special trip there

My friends Bob and Jim were there with their longtime unemployed houseguest Kenny.  Kenny looks like a concentration camp inmate because of all the weight he's lost only eating one meal a day.  Before I saw him tonight I didn't have much sympathy for his plight but after seeing him skin and bones, my attitude has softened somewhat.  Not so much that I'm offering him a place to live but I do feel sorry for him.

If you all remember my friends Bob and Jim, both show signs of dementia.  In the past I've helped them with installing a satellite TV in their home (they had no TV) and trained them into how to do e-mail (a waste of time because they promptly forgot what I taught them every time I left).

The last time I talked to them I had a falling out because I grew so frustrated with their dithering and confusion and hesitation on making any decisions.  I'm not a care provider.  I have no shame in admitting that fact.  I have my good qualities and skills, caregiving is not one of them.  I have little if no patience.  It's all I can do just to take care of myself and my 82 year old spouse.

So it took me quite by surprise this evening when Jim asked me to fill in the function of "friend" in dealing with the woman who is selling her trailer to them.  He said she is not using a real estate agent and their realtor advised them to "get a friend" to help them deal with her.  Excuse me?  A "friend"?  Me?  I don't so.  Why would I want to step into that quagmire?  Especially with my past experiences with Jim and Bob who absolutely cannot make a decision on ANYTHING.  Why would I want to do that?

I have a hard time saying "No" but I did say "No" to Jim.  He was taken aback but he shouldn't of been. Even if he did secure a "friend" to help him deal with a lady who is trying to save real estate commissions by selling her trailer herself, that wouldn't be guarantee that all the i's were dotted and the t's crossed.  I advised him to get a lawyer.  He said he did have a lawyer for the settlement.  I asked "Why isn't the lawyer working with you during the whole transaction?"  His answer?  Jim is going to save a few bucks by not paying a lawyer.  So he asks me to fill this function.

I turned him down flat.  I advised him to spring for the few bucks and get a layer.  Like me, he just inherited money from his Mom's estate so he has the cash to cover this expense.  So I said "No."

Do I feel a little bit guilty?  Sure. I like to be a hero to but I have to be realistic.  I've dealt with Jim before and it's no picnic.  Bob, my dear long time friend, is almost totally out of it.  These guys need help.  But that help isn't coming from me.

Maybe after all these years I've learned my lesson, no matter how much I try to help someone it always comes back to bite me in the ass.  I've been down this road many times before.  Maybe sometime I'll tell you about it.  But for now I'm leaving these two friends to seek professional help, which I am not.


anne marie in philly said...

yep, you don't wanna step in this pile of doggie-doo. this whole scene reeks of mishandling; it needs a lawyer AND a real estate agent pronto!

and you KNOW who would be blamed if something went wrong, correct? Y-O-U!

smart man you are, ron!

nitewrit said...


No, no, no,no and no. You gave the right answer. That would not be a good situation to get involved in even if your friends were quite confident. You would be stepping into a minefield of legal and financial considerations and whether that would put any obligations on you if things went wrong down the road,I don't know, but if something was unsatisfactory at the end, you'd probably get the blame from either or both sides. You gave the right answer. They need a lawyer or a realtor to advise them.

Thanks for your comments on my last two Posts. I am hoping to keep posting regular again. These posts have been part of a series all beginning with "Hot and Hazy". I did three so far and you commented on two. I am not certain you read the first about our power outage during this heat wave.

I always scan down your posts to see if I missed any. I apologize for not commenting on several lately. I really should at least put a "Kildare was here" each time.


Ron said...

Don and Larry,
You both are SO RIGHT! I couldn't believe what he was asking me to do. I had to ask him to repeat his request because I didn't think I heard it right. To take on such a responsibility is a thankless, no win situation especially with a person like JIm is extremely difficult. He doesn't understand and you have to repeat everything to him at least three times and yet he still doesn't understand. Even if I wanted to help I wouldn't take on that liability because something is bound to go wrong. The way I look at it if you want to buy a house and you don't feel comfortable with your ability to do so then you get professional help. I'm still in semi-shock that he would even ask me to do such a thing for him.

Ron said...

Anne Marie,
I wish I could have had a video of the expression on my face when he asked me if I could be his "friend" in his negotiations with this woman who is selling her trailer sans real estate agent just so she can save on the real estate commissions. I couldn't believe what he was asking me. I asked him to repeat his questions.
When I realized that he was serious I told him "No Jim, I can't help you. You need a lawyer or another real estate agent." The look he gave me when he heard my response was like a drowning man who asked his friend to throw him a rope to save him and was refused. I rarely say "No" and I almost always help my friends, especially these two but the past year or two they have deteriorated rapidly. Both of them are incompetent. I can't help them. It's all I can do to keep my life running.

Will J said...

A friend would have told them that they needed an attorney to do this right.

You were more of a friend to them than they will ever understand.

Ron said...

Thank you Will. You realize that I am giving my friends the information that is the best for them. My friend Jim is so focused on saving a few bucks he can't see the big picture. Jim really isn't my friend (probably because the only time he talks to me is when he wants something). My friend is is partner Bob. But Bob is so out of it with dementia that he's useless. I've called his nephew who has power of attorney but apparently he doesn't even want to get involved.

Vương Tử Trực said...

What does "the i's were dotted and the t's crossed" mean?

Ron said...

Tai, "dotting the i's and crossing the t's" refers to completing a legal document. The term has been taken up in the English language to mean something is not completed until "the i's are dotted and the t's crossed." I hope this explains it.

Vương Tử Trực said...

Haha, Yes Ron, I now understand. I was stupid, i has a dot and t has a cross.

Ur-spo said...

I tell patients to practice saying 'no' - do so 6x a day to even the smallest of offers, so they can feel strong when a real 'no' is required.

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,

Saying "No" to friends and family has never come easy to me. I can say it very easily to salesmen and telemarketers but not people I know. I guess I want to be liked and I'm afraid they won't like me if I say "No." I also avoid confrontations. I tend to lose control if I have a confrontation.