Big Things Come in Small Favors

Yesterday I had an encounter that would have seemed like nothing, once upon a time.

I was at lunch with a new(ish) friend. Perhaps that’s not a fair label anymore, as we met over a year ago—during my yearlong search—and have become good pals in the months since. When she got to lunch, she told me  had a favor to ask.

“Could you give me a ride to the train?”

The train, mind you, is about a five minute drive away. It was a small request. No big deal. (Or NBD, as the kiddies say.)

My friend, lets call her Mia, was heading to the train in a few hours, at about 4 pm. She knew I work from home, so my schedule was flexible enough to give her a quick ride, and asked if I would mind.

I didn’t, of course.

Like I said, it’s not that interesting of a story. I took special notice, though, because asking someone for a ride to the airport has become one of my measures of friendship.

Back when I spoke to GirlfriendCircles founder Shasta Nelson for the first time, she told me that the reason she started her site is that she was the life coach for a handful of women who all were missing the same thing: a nearby support system. It wasn’t that they didn’t have someone to call crying in the middle of the night if necessary, it was that they didn’t have someone to ask for a ride to the airport. “And a ride to the airport’s not that big a deal!” Nelson told me.

She was right. The airport-ride test is an interesting one. It’s not that big of a request, really. It’s just a ride. From my Chicago apartment,  it’s about a 30 minute drive each way to O’Hare. So an hour out of your day, half of which you get to spend gossiping with a friend. And yet, asking someone you don’t feel especially close to for a ride feels like a monumental request. Not quite a kidney, but you know… not not like a kidney, either.

Of course, what Mia asked for was an airport-ride divided by, like, 10. Or, actually, 6. But still, the fact she asked made me feel swell. Friendy. Like this search is continuing to move forward.

One small step for man, one giant leap for… Mia. Or something.

Have your friends performed any small favors, or asked any of you, that showed you your friendship was moving forward?

Oh, and Happy 4th of July, friends. See you on Tuesday!


Filed under The Search

10 responses to “Big Things Come in Small Favors

  1. It’s sort of weird to be deconstructing things like this. In college I didn’t drive (still don’t) and so asking people—my sorority sisters for instance–for rides places was commonplace and often ended in new bonds (lI got one of my best friends from that one time I needed to be picked up from the hospital, and we got lost…) But it never seemed like a big deal. Recently, a guy we hadn’t seen in years drove my friend to the airport after she put out a Facebook all-call.

    So I guess I never thought of it as a huge thing.

  2. TC

    The “favor” is one of the quickest ways I made a few of my friendships. I don’t drive either. While in school in Texas, a lot of my classmates would volunteer to drive me around. It first started as a favor, but then we started to study, eat, and hang out together. If i had my own car, then I would not have needed a favor. Then I would have missed out on getting to know some pretty awesome individuals. The favor is a HUGE play in making new friends.

  3. One of my friends, whom I have known for maybe ten years, asks what I call “family favors”. He doesn’t have any family in this town, and he and I have become like a brother and sister. When he is out of town, I take care of his animals (I have my own key to his place). I also have taken him to and picked him up from the airport which is two hours one way. I always love doing this for him.

    Last night, he asked his biggest “family favor” yet. He asked if he could give my phone number to his mother, and her number to me, just in event something happened to him. This almost brought tears to my eyes. I feel that this favor is the ultimate sign of true friendship.

  4. Suzannah

    I know some other moms will relate, the airport ride equal is ‘can you pick up my kid from school?’ It is not a huge inconvenience, but you must have enough of friendship in place, or it can make the other mom think you are gonna start asking for ‘favors’ with the kids all the time.
    It seems these sorts of favors are just the perks of having friends.

  5. I have been the ride giver most of the time since I got my license and it definitely made me closer with one of my college friends. Driving someone somewhere is one of those favours where, it’s virtually no inconvenience to the person doing it, and it can be a really big help to the other person, saving them time on switching buses, waiting in the rain and cold, cost of a taxi etc.. The world would be a nicer place if we all did everyone such favours. 🙂 However I have offered a ride before and had the other person turn me down, even after assuring them it’s no trouble!! Perhaps it’s a big step for some people to take. Maybe they feel the favour is expected to be returned?

  6. This is an amazing observation. The car ride thingy is a big indicator of where your friendship is at.

  7. I once had a friend who asked for a ride to the grocery store while her car was in the shop. I was excited, I felt like our friendship was evolving and I was happy to help. Until she only called me for rides here and there as her car couldn’t be fixed and then I started to feel used. So, while I agree that giving a friend a ride or doing a favor is a great way to cement a friendship, doing it too much too soon is a great way to destroy a potential friendship.

  8. Allison

    This is so interesting! I just discovered your blog from a tweet and I am in love! My husband is an Air Force pilot which means constant moving and the constant search for a new BFF at a new base. Adult friendships are weird and hard to find.

    It is so funny because I think I finally have one (and of course we’ll probably move soon). I came to that conclusion based on the fact that she volunteered to pick me up from the airport even when I said I’d get a car service. She insisted and said that since our other friends always ask me to pick them up and never return the favor, that it was about time I get the favor returned. BFFs!

    Love the “family favors” concept mentioned in the comments. When you live far from home, your friends have to become your family. I will totally admit to being touched when a new friend put me as her child’s emergency contact.

    • Thanks Allison! You’re so right. Adult friendship ARE weird. And from what I hear from military wives, the constant moving only makes it harder. I can’t imagine..

  9. Pingback: When Friends Go Too Far | MWF Seeking BFF

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