Do me a favour...
"Can I ask you a favour? You sure you don't mind? Really? That's great. Thanks."
I like doing favours for people. And in my line of business/interests i.e. computing, phones, gadgets, electrical, electronic, games et al I get asked quite a few. It's nice to able to help people out. I enjoy it. To show how something is done or simply just do it for them. It shows a kindness and caring about someone. You're happy to help because you know it'll be appreciated. Well, that's the theory.
In my ideal world all work would be done as favours. Bartering and favours. Like for like with pleases and thank-yous aplenty. But sadly the world is not like that. Or so I've been reminded rather rudely just recently.
A couple of months ago a friend asked me if I would go and see them. Scrub that, they called me on the telephone and started off with that usual question people ask when they are going to ask for a favour, "How are you?" Followed by a slight pause while they wait for the usual reply of, "I'm fine, thanks" before then launching into, "Can I ask you a favour?" Of course what they really meant was, "Do me a favour."
"My PC can't connect to the Internet would you come over and make it work?", they said. It was barely a question to be honest. More of a statement really. Anyway, I was delighted to help. After all, they're a friend and I like doing favours.
So the next day I went round to this friend's flat and did what I could. I needed to return subsequently because in fact the PC was more or less in pieces and needed rebuilding from scratch. So for the next few days I bought over a modem, power adapters, cables, installed all manner of hardware and software and finally got the PC up and running on the Internet. They did say 'thank you' at that point I might add. But looking back I had 'taken ownership' of all subsequent problems.
As the weeks and months have gone by I've been 'asked' again by this person to do many more favours for them on their PC. Each time I've gone to their home to fix other bits of software that have 'broken', reinstall hardware that has stopped working and generally acted as online support guru. The thank-yous have dried up though. And it was becoming obvious to me that my friend never actually used this PC themselves - it was other people that were the main users/abusers - friends of friends, if you like - and it was they who were asking (via my friend) to get me round there and fix the problems they had created.
This week my friend was away travelling. Yet, earlier this week I got a call at 11pm from one of these friends of friends asking me to go round and attend to some new problem on their PC. Being asked a favour by a friend is one thing but when friends of friends call you directly it's madness. And at 11pm too! I was livid. By yesterday I'd calmed down a bit and agreed to go and take a look. I must be crazy. I went round there. A full 5 hours later I was finished. I'd had to pick off all the spyware, viruses and other rubbish that these people had installed to get the PC back to some reasonable working order. No doubt they'll be mucking it all up again. And those calls will start coming. Again.
Do you think I'm being taken advantage of? If so, what do you think I can do about it? This friend is rather temperamental and I don't know how they'll react.