DEAR ABBY: A favor for an old friend ends up destroying their relationship

DEAR ABBY: A few months ago, I offered to help an old friend with some landscaping. The area to be developed is tiny. I was worried that a professional landscaper would overcharge him. She contacted a landscaper all the same – not to hire him, but to choose his brains.

When he arrived, it was obvious he didn’t want the job and she didn’t offer it to him. She accepted my offer. It then dithered for a few months, during which time I took care of other projects. But I made time for him and we sat down to review his project. She confessed that she had no experience with landscaping and plant selection, and that she needed my help with that as well.

After she pooped out the most viable suggestions I came up with, we started looking at plants – lots of plants – none of which she liked. After a frustrating few hours, she mentioned that she would just plant what she had originally thought of planting. I told her that if she did that, she didn’t need my help. She told me I needed to be more patient, and if she had known I wouldn’t help her, she would have hired the landscaper after all. (That wasn’t true. She had never intended to hire him.)

I told her she needed to be more decisive, and even though she told me she needed my experience, she didn’t accept any of it. She also couldn’t see that she had wasted hours of my time. We’ve barely spoken since. So, am I wrong here?

— The Green Thumb in Texas

DEAR GREEN THUMB: No, you’re not wrong. No good deed goes unpunished. Consider yourself lucky to have barely spoken since. And then don’t bring it up again unless you want to experience more frustration.

DEAR ABBY: I’m the operations manager for a nursing/rehabilitation home in Montana. My residents and I want you to know how much we appreciate your column. We read it every day and discuss what kind of advice we would give your letter writers. Your column is a highlight of our afternoons.

We would also like to remind your readers that there are many homes like ours, filled with people like us. We would appreciate and benefit from being recognized by our communities, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. These houses are full of your grandparents, parents and other family members and friends. Our community has always been loving and supportive of us. We hope homes in other locations will be as lucky as we are.

Thank you for your column. We expect more!

— Faithful resident,

Deer Lodge, Mt.

DEAR RESIDENT: Thank you for your kind words and thoughtful letter. I am happy that your residents have the support of the good citizens of your community; it says nice things about the people of Montana. I know my column is discussed around many breakfast tables and water coolers because it’s a surefire conversation starter. This is the reason why it is popular in many nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

I hope that more readers will find the time to visit the residents of these homes, not only for the joy it will bring them, but also to benefit from the wealth of experience these people have gained over their long life. While visitors are plentiful during the holidays, they are very quiet at other times.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write to Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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