Dear Good Greatsby: How Do I Convince My Sister to Do Me More Favors?

Posted on August 24, 2011


Today’s guest panelist will be my best friend, Todd, who finds himself with a bit of time on his hands since I accidentally got him fired from his last three jobs. 

The first question comes from The Average Person at the blog

Dear Good Greatsby,

Recently I’m becoming increasingly worried due to my sister seemingly forgetting what a favour is. For instance she said I owe her a favour, because I need to use my car. She is 20 and at university. How can I convince her that acts like these do not merit a favour, or simply convince her to do me more favours?

Sincerely, The Average Person.

Dear The Average Person,

Paul: Since the dawn of time, great minds like Socrates, Plato, and I have been pondering that eternal question: How do I get people to do more favors for me than I do for them?  How do I create unequal syncophantic relationships where others consider it a privilege to help me but feel embarrassed to ask me for anything in return?  How do I get discounts at all the restaurants where my friends work while convincing them to never come to my place of work because their shoddy clothing, slack jaws, and permanently furrowed brows embarrass me?

First of all, the favor discrepancy between you and your sister results from a failure to track favors more closely.  Favors given and received must be written down each day if you expect to be able to confront people with indisputable evidence that they’re running a favor deficit.  I keep an Excel spreadsheet with a ledger of favor “deposits” and “withdrawals”, and if my friend Todd asks me to return the $50 I borrowed, I place a check next to his name under “favor withdrawal”.  If he asks for the money a second time, I place another check under “favor withdrawal”.  And if I actually do return the $50, I place five checks under “favor withdrawal” because this an above-average favor. 

This favor ledger ensures I never give more favors than I’m receiving and helps me focus my time and attention on the relationships with the most positive favor ratios. 

You must accept part of the blame for letting your sister make so many more favor withdrawals than favor deposits.  If you do her four favors a month and she returns just one favor, after a year she owes you thirty-six favors.  Is it realistic to believe she’ll ever catch up?  I suggest you consider those past favors a sunk cost and start tracking your favors more closely so you can present evidence of her overwhelming favor deficit when you threaten to move on and find a positive favor ratio relationship with a new sister.

Todd: I can vouch for everything Paul wrote; I’m not saying I agree with his advice, but I am confirming he keeps a favor ledger because he presented it as evidence to the judge during consideration of my restraining order against him and insisted a restraining order couldn’t be granted until all favors had been repaid or until he received monetary compensation for those favors. 

Paul, you said if I agreed to be a guest panelist you would repay the money you owe me; where’s my $11,000?

Paul: I agreed to repay the money but I thought the number in dispute was $110.00, not $11,000.  I must have placed the decimal in the wrong place.  I’m going to have to renege on our agreement and defer payment until such time as I have substantially more money, possibly after introduction of a miracle drug that cures my inability to work very hard.   

Read more about The Average Person’s frustration with her sister in her post, Favours.

The second question comes from Spectra of the blog  Check out her hilarious post planning her life as a ghost: Ghosty Things I Will Do.

Dear Good Greatsby,

With this summer weather, I have a lot of bad hair days. I am wondering, should I procure a wig? And if so, am I obligated to joke about it, or should I just pretend it’s my real hair? And what is the proper demeanor to assume while lying about ones hair piece? Also, once I get a wig, is there some sort of a schedule I should follow, as to how often I actually wear it? Furthermore, what are the latest ‘wig’ fashions I need to know about before making this crucial decision? Thank you in advance for your weighty solution to my dilemna.


Dear Spectra,

Paul: You ask if you should procure a wig because of bad hair days, but I suggest you should procure a wig regardless of how great your hair looks.  My wife and I own seven wigs even though we both enjoy the spoils of consistently outstanding hair.  Wearing a funny wig makes you the life of the party and can brighten an otherwise stale dinner party or funeral.  My wife and I like to put the wigs on the children during dinner to help us pretend our kids are different, far more interesting children.  My wife and I also use the wigs to spice things up in the bedroom, not for anything sexual, but so we can imitate famous celebrities while we sleep. 

Are you obligated to joke about wearing a wig?  No.  Absolutely never break character and admit your hair isn’t real.  You must appear to take yourself deathly serious at all times.  The moment you make a joke about your wig is the moment others see an opening to make their own jokes and some of these jokes might be funnier than your jokes.   

How often should you wear your wig?  This depends how often you want to be the life of the party. 

Todd: Can I at least have the $110.00? 

Paul: Will you take a 3rd-party, out-of-country check that can’t be cashed until November?  Or you can choose whatever is inside this box.  I know you can’t see the box on the table next to me, but I’ll describe it for you.  It’s brown like most other boxes, and very long, somewhat similar to the dimensions of a flat screen TV.

Todd: I’ll take the box!

Paul: Are you sure?

Todd: Yes.

Paul: You made the right choice!  The box contains a 3rd-party, out-of-country check for $120.00.  Please don’t cash the check until January.

Do you have a question for The Good Greatsby?