He Helped His Neighbor with Errands, but The Neighbor’s Daughter Expected Him to Ensure Her Father Took His Meds – Was He Reasonable to Expect Compensation?

A man named John had formed a close bond with his elderly neighbors, both in their late 80s, particularly throughout the pandemic. He often helped them out by running errands for them, but he was soon asked a favor which felt too large of a responsibility.

Pandemic Friendship

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During the pandemic, John regularly offered to purchase his neighbors’ groceries while they were in complete isolation, and a special friendship developed. They saw him as a surrogate grandson, and he genuinely cared for them.

The Loss of a Beloved Friend

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Tragedy struck when the elderly woman passed away last year. Her husband was now living alone, and John made it a habit to visit him a few times a week, offering companionship and assistance as needed.

A Sudden Request

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Recently, the daughter of John’s elderly neighbor came to visit from another state. She got John’s contact information and reached out to him, requesting assistance regarding her father’s daily medication.

An Unexpected Proposition

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The daughter, concerned about her father’s well-being, asked John if he could ensure her father took his daily medicine since he had been skipping some doses. She assumed John would be willing to do it for free, given his frequent visits. However, John had a different perspective.

A Fair Question

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“I said I could, but asked her what she could pay me to do that”, John explained. The question caught her by surprise. She responded, “Why would I need to pay you? You were already visiting him every day.”

Explaining the Situation

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John clarified that his visits were out of genuine fondness for her father and were not obligatory. Taking on this responsibility would require him to adjust his schedule, ensuring he could be there at specific times every day. He explained that there were days when he didn’t come home immediately from work, went for drinks, stayed at his boyfriend’s place, and so on.

The Daughter’s Reaction

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The daughter still seemed taken aback by John’s request for compensation. She suggested that he could simply drop by whenever he came home from work, but John reiterated that such a responsibility would not be that flexible.

An Entitled Demand

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Despite his desire to help, the way the daughter approached the situation concerned John. She was almost demanding his assistance and trying to guilt-trip him, and this made John contemplate his stance. 

Selfless Concern

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However, learning of his neighbor’s reluctance to take his medicine deeply concerned John, and he wanted to be there for him. He considered the potential consequences if he refused to take on this responsibility, inclining him to accept it regardless of payment. 

Asking for Assistance

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John became conflicted, and he sought advice as to how he should approach this ethical dilemma. He posted his conundrum online, opening up the thread to public suggestions. “Your when-available kindness doesn’t create a day-to-day obligation”, one person reminded him. “However, it couldn’t hurt to check to make sure he’s taken his meds when you do stop by.”

Not John’s Obligation

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Many commenters focussed on John’s perceived obligation to help his elderly neighbor. “He is not your obligation, and at his age, he should have a dedicated caretaker”, agreed another commenter. “I understand if money is tight for them, but that doesn’t mean you should put your life on pause for someone else.”

An Entitled Daughter 

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Many readers thought it was awful that the elderly man’s daughter had turned something so positive into something negative. “She is taking advantage of you, turning your kindheartedness into a job”, one person stated. “Asking is one thing, expecting is another.”

What if John Wasn’t There?

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One reader reminded John that the help he was already providing was more than enough. “If you weren’t there, she’d have to pay for carers to do it”, they wrote. The commenter hoped to illustrate that paying a support worker should be expected at the neighbor’s age, so John was certainly not in the wrong to expect payment. 

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