Three Fingers in a Dyke

The legend of the brave Dutch boy – by others thought to be named Hans Brinker – who supposedly put his finger in the dyke to prevent a flood, was actually a literary invention by the American writer Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), who was born in New York.”

I’ve been thinking about this story lately, because it’s all well and good if you can save the town by placing one finger in a dyke. Depending on which finger you use, you can still do a lot of stuff while you wait for help to arrive. You can play guitar. You can text someone on your g1. You can hold a knife and fork and eat dinner if someone brings you the food…..

Bill & Sandra

However, things become more of a problem FOR YOU if you have to put TWO fingers in the dyke to stop the flood. It gets obviously worse if you have to put THREE fingers in the dyke, because now, you effectively only have one hand left to do what YOU have to do until help arrives to properly plug the holes and you can go about your business.
This is what happens to you when people JACK THEMSELVES UP and then ask YOU to get them out of it. People just LOVE to paint themselves into corners that they can’t possibly get out of on their own and then beg someone else to solve their incredible problem for them. On top of that, they still want to haggle with you as if YOU’RE the one with the problem and not THEM. They explain the issue to you, you inform them of what you CAN do and how long it’s going to take you and then they want to know how cheaply you can do it for them.
How about if it costs you ZERO and you DO. IT. YOURSELF? How about that? Meanwhile, I’ll have a brew, eat some pizza and kick it with some chicks and enjoy my time while you’re busy FAILING. Oh… That doesn’t sound good to you? That means we’re talking about regular rates PLUS “rush” rates. It’s a fascinating combination of amusing & annoying when people are in dire straits (the predicament, not the band) and they want to haggle over the price of a seat in the lifeboat while the Titanic’s sinking. My ship isn’t sinking. Yours is. Hope you can swim! *waves goodbye*

Unfotunately, it’s not always that easy for the person whom someone else is asking to stick three fingers in a dyke to save a town that they don’t even live in. Psychologically, for people that pride themselves on ALWAYS winning, this presents a real problem. This situation, which has NOTHING to do to them and wasn’t a result of their own mistakes or ineptitude/incompetence has now been dropped in their laps. This is a challenge which they are naturally inclined to consider, meet and defeat. Less than that would be admitting that they can’t handle the situation….
Well, the actual issue is a) It’s NOT *YOUR* SITUATION, and b) maybe you CAN handle it… but at what cost to yourself? O_o This is the middle ground… This is the mucus between her period and ovulation……. well….. never mind that. The point is that you REALLY have to consider how many fingers someone’s asking you to place in the dyke before you accept the challenge.
Another psychological burden is the fact that you’re doing better than someone else. They really need help and you’re about to eat pizza and hang out with chicks. Well… You know why I can do that? Because I HANDLED all of MY business PROPERLY. Had YOU done the same thing, you might be doing whatever YOU like to do right now. It’s very easy, however, to see the situation altruistically and see that it’s within your powers and ability to make this sacrifice for someone else’s well being.
Again.. That’s all well and good, so long as you’re not dragging yourself down in the process. I watched this REALLY, REALLY, REALLY STUPID MOVIE the other day about people that went out to the middle of nowhere on a yacht and someone fell overboard or something and then EVERYONE ON BOARD jumped in the water to save them and then NONE OF THEM could get back on the yacht. :/ Who did that benefit? Nobody. As is true for most stupid American ‘horror’ films, everyone died except for one person that survived to the end of the film and made it back on board.
It would have been BETTER for SOMEONE to retain a clear mind when the situation went down and say “You know what? If I help this person by jumping in the water, I can’t help MYSELF”. It would have been better if JUST ONE PERSON on that boat would have said “I’m going to make sure that I’m going to survive this, and AFTER THAT, I’m going to do what I can for whomever’s in the water”. This is what you need to think about when people are asking you to fix situations that they bungled on their own. It’s possible that even though you CAN help them, it’s too detrimental to your current position or your future plans to spend your time attempting to bail them out.
On top of that, it’s not always just one person. When you know a lot of people, you have a lot of people with their hands out, begging.
In a way, this is an even worse situation, because the things they’re asking you for seem like such a simple thing to do. However.. If you did all these small favors, whether you’re getting paid properly or not… All of a sudden, you fell behind on what YOU needed to do for yourself or your clients. All of a sudden YOU’RE in a hole you’re trying to dig yourself out of when you could have avoided that situation by letting them know you hope they achieve their goals, but you can’t be involved.
It’s also funny when people get MAD at you for not helping them with something that’s completely their fault and has nothing to do with you! What would you have done if I had never responded to your communication? That’s right. You would have failed anyway. You would have found someone else to do it, done it yourself or FAILED. Period. I listened to your idea. It wasn’t in my best interest. I passed. Bye! I’ll be eating pizza later and forgetting that you exist. Meanwhile, you’ll still be mad that you jacked up your position and thought you were going to get *me* to save you. Nope.
One of my favorite, FAVORITE signs when I used to be a 9-5er is:

Lack of preparation on your part
does not constitute an emergency on my part.

Learn it! Live it! Love it!
~ Bill Cammack | @BillCammack

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