What makes you willing to stop whatever you’re doing and help someone? It seems to break down into these components:

1) Your personal willingness to help people.

2) The importance of the task they interrupted.

3) How much you like the person asking for help.

4) How difficult the task needed is.

What needs to happen for you to be happy to help with something? What makes you unwilling to help?

Help? Me? No, I hate you all.

If you like to help people, aren’t doing anything important, the person who asked is a friend, and the task isn’t hard, you’ll be happy to help.

If you’re not particularly inclined to assist, you were in the middle of something vital, you dislike the person who asked, and they want you to do something demanding, they’re likely out of luck.

Sometimes you get forced to help, either by an authority figure or other people’s expectations, and then you’re resentful. This usually results in muttering and snark.

Ever had that happen to you? I think employment or family is generally involved…

At the animal shelter where I volunteer, I get asked to help with a variety of things. Most of what I do there, I do without prompting–dogs need walking, and puppies could use some attention and play time. Anyone has an accident, you clean it up. Cat’s cages get cleaned every morning, and litter boxes need cleaning when dirty, so I clean. People walk into the shelter, you go say hi and see if they want to visit a critter.

Sometimes I get asked for help. Could you clean that cage, because that kitten was digging for China in their litter box? Could you fetch cats from the clinic, or set up cages for new occupants? Could you fill food or water bowls? Could you hold this cat/dog for a minute? Could you wash some new intakes? Could you walk these dogs that haven’t gotten enough exercise today?

I can be in the middle of something already, but usually nothing too important, so I’m happy to help. Maybe it’s because the cats and dogs are generally happy for whatever you’re doing, purring or tail-wagging from the attention.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

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