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Am I A Good Nephew? (Are You?) 

April 12, 2016

Go see your relatives before it’s too late. That’s what we are told, right? I have an aunt that lives in Salt Lake City. I didn’t see her for years and years. Then, my cousin (her daughter) got super sick and we thought she was going to die. Our family rarely gets together. We sometimes get together for weddings. We nearly always get together for funerals. 

So, the family rallied. Fortunately, my cousin didn’t die, but it was a close thing. I reconnected with my aunt. I go see her once per year. That’s once more per year than I used to see her. But, I have a problem. I only go when there is something in it for me. I’m really not as terrible a person as that sounds. At least I hope I’m not.

There are departments at my work that I need things from. They don’t have to give them to me. But, if they do it will make my life a lot easier. How do I get them to help me? I’ll tell you what I don’t do. I don’t wait and only talk to them when I need something. Many of them, I go out of my way to visit when I’m in town. I do what I can to help make their jobs easier. With some departments, I’ve been very successful. With others, less so. But, if the only time they hear from me is when I need something, eventually they stop answering the phone.

Friends can be the same way. We all have friends, close friends and aquaintences. The difference between the three is often proximity and trust. If you and I meet, we become aquaintences. If we end up working together, we may become friends. As I come to depend on you, and you to depend on me, we become close friends. 

But, how does that pattern work in reverse? Close friends drift apart, of course. And especially when jobs change, or people move, aquaintences and friendships can wither and eventually die. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You cannot stay friends with everyone you’ve ever met. It would be exhausting. 

But, the concept I worry about with my aunt, also applies to people you work with. If every time Bill, from accounting shows up at your desk, it’s to ask you to unlock his account because he forgot his password again, you might start to think that you and Bill are not friends. You are Bill’s help desk tech. If the only time you interact with Beth in marketing is to ask her to make you “just one more” flyer for your monthly karaoke night, Beth is not going to consider you her friend. 

You need to give in order to get. You need to “be a friend to have a friend.” (I think I have that on a poster around her somewhere.) It’s how things get done. 

I pick about 8-15 bushels of grapes at my aunt’s house every year, depending on the yield. That translates into about 10-15 gallons of the best concord grape juice you’ve ever tasted. It’s phenomenal. So, I actually see my aunt twice a year. Once when we pick the grapes and then several days later when we bring her a supply of fresh grape juice. 

Yeah, I still feel a little like a bad nephew for only seeing her around grape season, but I placate my conscious with a gallon or so the fruit of the vine. 

Go visit your relatives while you still can. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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