Two weeks ago, my co-worker Kelly had a family emergency that required that she fly off immediately. This left her husband in a stressful situation where he was watching their two kids, one of whom is autistic and requires undivided attention, while trying to work from home. Kelly was freaking out and asked me to take him beer and verify that the kids were alive. It seemed kinda invasive and insulting, but I did. I embarked on a 5 hour round-trip to their house with $120 in groceries and alcohol.
Two days ago, to thank me for that effort, Kelly invited me for dinner. "We're grill challenged," she said. "Can you cook?" Um, sure. I'll stop and pick up stuff en route. And thus did I buy another $85 in groceries and courier it five hours to their house.
Where I spent the evening cooking for my hosts. And their neighbors. While they talked and drank in another room. And at the end of the day, I was lauded for all my expense and effort. Lauded. As in not compensated.
To summarize, my thank you for driving five hours and buying them $120 in groceries was to drive 5 hours with $85 more in groceries and refine said groceries into a meal for them and their neighbors. I suppose I should be grateful that I didn't have to clean up.
"Please," I said. "I can't afford any more of your gratitude."