Reciprocity is Hard
Bill here. I don’t like heights. Or ladders. So when it came up in conversation and a neighbor offered to clean my gutters for me, I wanted to take him up on it. But I didn’t. I didn’t know how I would reciprocate, and it seemed like more than a “hold my beer” kind of favor. In grad school my wife Amy and I and our two young daughters lived in an apartment complex with a lot of other young families. All of us exhausted dads and moms decided to start trading babysitting so we could actually act like married couples and go on dates together – or take a nap. Good idea right? What could go wrong? Well, it got imbalanced. Not because some couples weren’t pulling their weight but because some weren’t accepting reciprocation and actually going out on dates. Maybe they didn’t like each other, I don’t know. But they would babysit our kids, Amy and I would have a wonderful evening, and then we would never get the chance to return the favor so they could go out. Plus, there was no way for more than two of us to trade the favor back and forth at a time, no three ways, you know? So many awkward situations with friends and favors! It’s almost as bad as friends and money. Ghast! What about the sister and brother-in-law who invite your horde of a family to stay with them over Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, too? You’d never dream of offering to pay them, and they’d never dream of taking your money, but here you are, relying on the hospitality of loved ones with little immediate chance to pay them back. Of course, there’s alcohol, but bartering only goes so far. What if, heaven forbid, you had to stay with family who didn’t drink? Or they didn’t need what you had to offer? Whether you’re turning down a favor because you don’t know how to reciprocate, or feeling awkward because someone else has done something for you but won’t accept anything in return, or wishing your friend would just take your damn money or let you buy them a drink, you could use a favor trading app. Better, a game!