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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"What Are Friends For?"

The person who uttered these words wasn’t really asking a question, but if he had been it would have been this: "Do you 'cut deals' under the counter to your friends by selling to them at lower prices, off the books, and not charging sales tax or reporting the sale?" Call me a chump, but I don’t. I never have. Sometimes, so as not to sound too holier-than-thou, I just tell people who ask the question outright that I’m not smart enough to keep two sets of books, and that usually closes the topic. Those of us in business in our little village occasionally (not always) discount to one another, but our deals are on the books. The buyer pays the sales tax, which the seller reports and files and pays to the state.

My answer to the question that wasn’t really asked, “What are friends for?” is that, when it comes to business, friends support friends’ businesses. They don’t ask friends to cheat and file fraudulent tax returns. I value my friends and customers. Many of my customers are friends. Long-time friends who support my business by also being my customers—how can I ever say enough in gratitude for these folks?

More broadly speaking, what are friends for? To join in and contribute to our joys and successes, to sympathize with our inevitable failures and losses, and to give us the opportunity to do all that for them, too. Friendship is caring, and along with Nature's beauty it's what carries us through the rough spots.

The images today are of my beautiful new begonia, "Apple Blossom," purchased at Northport Nursery, now owned by S&J Landscaping. Thanks, Stephanie and Jim!


Deborah said...

Gorgeous flowering plant - do you have it at the store or home?

P. J. Grath said...

It was at the bookstore for one day. I bought it in the morning, brought it in the shop rather than leaving it in the hot car, and took it home that evening. I think it falls into the category of "rose form" begonias, and aren't the colors wonderfully subtle? Really like apple blossoms, which open from pink to white. Or (I can't help thinking) like the colors of cold cooked peeled shrimp!

Gerry said...

Love the begonia, love the shrimp connection, but then I'm always about food.

As for the person who asks "What are friends for?" well, at least we know what that person's "friendship" is all about, don't we?

P. J. Grath said...

I guess my association with shrimp tells you where my mind is, too. As for my friendship and sales tax rant, it's heavier than what I usually post, but it was on my mind.