The Lesson I Learned From Skipping An Act of Kindness

Companies in business for 100+ years have established a great reputation for service. Here's how that happens.

This was posted as "public" in Facebook so I'll assume the person who wrote it (an acquaintance/"friend" of mine) is OK with it being shared. I'm pulling it over to The Pursuit of Happiness because it's a story with a happy ending.

In short, a woman made an appeal on Facebook for help with her heating system, asking if anyone could come out and help her FOR FREE ON NEW YEAR'S DAY. Somebody did but here's why this story matters, maybe not just to me but to you too:

I saw the original post that my friend shared and which I'm including below, and the follow-up note, also below, and I learned a lesson from them today.

After I saw the first post, I thought about pinging a friend of mine who owns an HVAC company. I even put his name in the replies, but then deleted it and moved on. Why? I didn't want to put pressure on my business-owner friend — whose company is expanding and who is very busy this time of year — to have to take time off from his paid jobs to try to be charitable, or maybe I didn't want to pressure him to interrupt his day off with his wife and young daughter. Both of these are probably true.

After reading the second post, I realize this was a mistake for two reasons: The first one was that I was kinda hesitant to help the woman who posted because she and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of political things, and maybe I interpret that as she asks for a lot but I have no idea whether she gives back. So I was feeling uncharitable toward her — even though she wasn't even the one who needed help. This is my fault for viewing her through a Facebook lens.

The second and really more important mistake is this: The chance for us to help others is paid back in ways we can't anticipate, and I should have considered this before I deleted my friend's name from the responses to the post. For instance, while I love and trust my friend to do electrical at our house, and have used him many times, I will share the company below as a resource for others in the future because I KNOW they will go out of their way to make sure to get the job done — even when it's a job that doesn't always pay in the usual compensation. Can I say that about my friend? I don't know, and I won't know until the next time I have the chance to give him the circumstance to go above and beyond.

I'm grateful for the lessons I learned here: to always ask others if they can help someone in distress. Even if they can't, there's no harm in asking. And also, maybe I ought to get offline once in a while and communicate face to face to see how people truly are, rather than making assumptions based on short clips and comments. My Facebook friend obviously cares about others as she showed by passing on this appeal for help.

Here are the posts:

Original Post 1/1/18

Sharing this from a local resident in Reisterstown. PM if you can help.

'So please no rude comments. This is the most embarrassing and humbling thing I thought I'd never do. We are a family of 3 and I suffer from major illnesses never know when being admitted to hospital. My husband suffers from
painful condition where can't sit or stand for long time. Our son was injured & hasn't been able to work since July.

Our furnace stopped working Friday. Had a company come out and say definitely blower motor was shot but furnace needs to be replaced.

We do have 2 fireplaces we used on Sat night and had chimney fire. So that's out. We're living on space heaters thanks to neighbors. Our bedroom was 32°.

We've hit rock bottom, out of $ and no credit.
Just thought I'd try to see if there is any angel who is licensed HVAC who out of good of heart be willing to try to fix furnace for pro bono.

I'm not a begger and am crying writing this. We have no other help, have applied for energy assistance but they're not gonna give you a blower motor !

I've heard of people doing good deeds and right not we really need a miracle.

Anyone who would be an angel I really don't know what to say. I will guarantee you I'd do everything I could for you or your company would get a good advertising on TV.

So please if you or anyone you know who could help us, we'd be greatly indebted for life

This is so embarrassing I'm just trying anything'

Updated 1/5/18

For those of you that live in the Baltimore area take note. Last weekend a Reisterstown resident posted that her furnace broke and she didn't have the money to repair or replace it. This is what happened:

'Now that is all settled down, I have to give a huge shout out to Farnen & Dermer. Many people were so kind and generous on a post I did last weekend about not having any heat. Our furnace went up & unfortunately we aren't in a position to put a new one in

For those who read the post and I thank those who posted such positive kind comments. One of the comments was from Zach Dermer from Farnen & Dermer HVAC company stating they would come put in a new heating system at n/c. I was shocked. I'm still in awe.

Their company was founded and has been in business since 1902. That's incredible in itself. Zach came out Tuesday & yesterday his crew came out and installed a new system just as promised. His workers were totally professional, knowledgeable, kind, and so efficient. There just aren't enough words to describe our gratitude.

In today's world, it seems most companies strive just for profit and customer service is not a priority. I've never experienced the amazing service Farnen & Dermer provided. I highly recommend them to everyone and certainly will do all I can to see their company is around for another 100+ years

From the bottom of our hearts thank you Zach.'

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