If you haven’t heard this statement before, take heed of it now it will hopefully save you from yourself. Nobody can take advantage of you unless you let them. Not talking about lending a helping hand here. I’m not talking about giving of yourself to save a desperate situation that could really use something you have to offer, like helping your friend eat that last half a quart of double mocha with brownie bits ice cream because their freezer went bad. No, this is more along the lines of buying them a new freezer because they spent all their money on ice cream instead of saving for a rainy day. Nope your responsibility ends with that last spoon full of brownie bitted goodness.  Of course it would be nice if you offered to help that same friend unload his new freezer and get it down in his basement—but only after he buys it. Cash is king—of the pocket it is in.

I readily admit that in my life I have had occasion to find enough tracks on my backside to run a transcontinental railroad, from people using me. All sorts of tracks, big like trains from huge favors that cost lots of dollars, moose size tracks that cost precious friendships, and little kitten tracks that cause hurt, that are the most annoying because they just keep coming and coming. I’m let’s say 90 percent sure that embedded on the back sides of most of us we can find those same well used tracks. But saying no, nope, no way, can’t do it buddy, are you kidding asking me that, or get outta here, is hard. These are all words and phrases we scream into our pillows at night after yet another day has gone by that we find we have acquired yet another new set of tracks.

Once we were asked to help house a friend for an unspecified time. They needed, well wanted, to stay in the area while the rest of the family moved away for some reason or another. On the surface it didn’t seem like a request that would be of any consequence.  But thankfully I happen to live with someone with a stronger back than mine. And that is saying a lot since he has actual marks that look like a railroad on his back from like thirteen back surgeries. He said no, nope, no way, can’t do it buddy, are you kidding asking me that! That doesn’t mean he is without feeling. He did give alternative ideas about the plight put before him. He had some wonderful other more realistic suggestions that would be better for all concerned. Why can’t I be like that?

This is why; I am a marshmallow. There it is. Out there for all to see. I can be run over, danced on, brought around to someone’s way of thinking without even thinking if whatever they are thinking about has been well thought out. Well there’s another brain teaser.

For years he, the other half of me, has tried, mostly in vain, to get me to poke at the sleeping side of me that has enough oomph to protect me from my marshmallow-y self. I would like to learn how to keep new train, moose or kitten tracks from becoming part of the landscape on my backside. Is it just me or are there others like me that when I open my pie hole to say, “Not today,” instead “You betcha” comes out instead.  Those don’t even sound the same. This all sounds pretty self-centered. I actually do not hesitate to lend a helping hand and do it without regret, remorse or regurgitation after helping. (Regurgitator: those who keep telling you how wonderful they are for helping.) The everyday Helpful Hanna is not what I am talking about, and I know you get that. It’s just becoming clearer that there are more people today who “want without work,” than those who “work without want”, at least in my lifetime. I, and maybe you too wish to help, but not get smoosched in the stampede along the way.

What is your secret of being able to say no, nope, no way, can’t do it buddy or are you kidding me asking me that? I’d love to hear about it and will share, but only if you say it is okay to do so.

Trina Machacek lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS can be found on Kindle.  Share your thoughts and opinions with her at itybytrina@yahoo.com.