Day 15: The favor chain.

Dear friends,


So I have this neighbor three houses down from mine.

And my neighbor happens to work with me. I don’t want to be all specific about the work sitch, so let’s just say she’s down the chain from me. And when I get ideas, she gets the “fun” of implementing them. She’s really great at implementing ideas, whereas I am only good at dreaming them up, and that’s just one reason why I love working with her.

Today, on my way to the office, I drove by her house and noticed her yard was awash in autumn leaves. She’s a widowed working gal living among retirees and a stay-at-home dad (Mr. Mom), all of whom have plenty of time to rake their leaves.

My neighbor would have more time to rake her leaves if I didn’t have so many ideas at work needing her attention. So I called Mr. Mom and asked, very politely, if he would mind raking her leaves because, you know, I’ve been keeping her busy and she might feel bad that everybody’s lawn is clean but hers.

He’d already raked and burned another neighbor’s leaves so he really didn’t mind, but he refused to do it without knowing “her preferences.” (This is where the woman who’s never raked leaves in her life learned people have preferences about this sort of thing.)

So I called my neighbor under the pretense of details related to a meeting later that day and I mentioned her leaves. Because she’s a nice person who indulges me but probably thinks I am either an exceptionally nosy neighbor or colleague, or both (the mixing of which can be tricky), I managed to end the conversation with enough information to get Mr. Mom going.

And, of course, he got it done pronto. So when she went home for lunch she saw that her weekend’s chore had been taken care of.

Which made her really happy.

Which made me really happy.

And I have to say: this favor chain idea — where someone does me a favor and then someone else returns the favor for me — well, it really rocks! You should try it.

With gratitude {for the endless favors, large and small, granted to me by almost everyone in my life},

Joan, who’s not the least bit OCD about autumn leaves and actually prefers the view with them on the ground but conforms to societal standards as long as Mr. Mom provides the labor



  1. I agree with you about liking the leaves on the ground. We used to save them until after Thanksgiving so Hunter could play in them when he came to visit. San Antonio doesn’t have many leaves on the ground. The trees for the most part stay green.

  2. A) I know this is beside the point but hey – I’m with Juanita (literally – I live 90 minutes North of her) so I can’t even imagine what “options” are available for raking leaves and now I’m deeply curious. You mean options like whether you create a mulch pile or bag them for pick-up or burn them? Need. To. Know! (pretty please?)

    B) I’m also trying to imagine how you pulled off that conversation with your neighbor about her leaves, but don’t want to know, really. Guessing is funnier.

  3. I am getting a kick of these Texans who have no experience with leaf removal. I am also a little jealous of their perpetually green, leafy lives (although Texas summers strike me as penance). For the record, all the leaves are still on the ground in my less-than-meticulously-groomed ‘hood, so conformity requires that I resist the urge to rake, at least until Pearl Harbor Day….

  4. The wonderful thing, well, one of many wonderful things, about living in the woods, a gazillion miles from the road and any neighbors, is the complete un-necessity of raking leaves. We just blow them away from the house and let the rest lay where they land. 🙂

  5. Deb — Unbeknownst to me, not everybody burns their leaves, even though we live outside the city limits and can do it legally. Turns out, my neighbor bags hers takes them to the recycling center. Mr. Mom thought it was important to know because it impacts placement of the leaf pile. (So much to this leaf thing I never knew about!)

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