I try to be a friendly, helpful neighbor. I am sure most of you do as well. If any of you follow me on twitter, @Terri_OConnell, you know that a few weeks ago I was on a rant about those that are not good neighbors.
It started with an innocent email, requesting help breaking down their brick wall. To be perfectly honest, I was thrilled that someone would ask me for help. I replied the same day to the request and asked the sender to please send me ALL the information they have and I would go through it and where it leads me.
I received an email later that day giving me the details of the family in question. I then started a tree on ancestry.com to see what else I could find, I also searched familysearch.org and the records on a state specific web site. (Please understand that I am being vague to protect all sides involved).
I did not find much beyond the information that was given to me. A census record, a few things of that nature. But nothing to take me back any further than what this person had already found. So, I reached out to this person again via email asking for scanned copies of the records that they might already have. I did get a reply that might have answered a few questions I had, but my request for the vital records was ignored.
At this point, I probably put in about 3 hours of research into this family, and did not mind doing it. I then ended up getting sick and quit research all together (including my family). About a week passed and I received another email from said person asking for an update. I replied that I have been ill and that when I was feeling better I would continue my search.
Fast forward another week, I am still sick and have not moved forward on any research. I receive yet another email, this one was not so nice. The gist of it was they were deeply disappointed in me.
I was more than furious, how does someone who I have NEVER met send me such a mean email. Especially when I was volunteering to help with their research. I ranted on Twitter and most replied that I should be charging and not be doing this for free.
I waited a few days before replying to the email. Which, is very unlike me, I am usually prompt at replying. I wanted to make sure my reply was to the point and not mean in any way.
I finally pulled my thoughts together and began my reply to this person. Using a few bullet points, I explained a few things, such as: I am doing this for free, it took me over 10 years to break a brick wall down and 2 weeks was not enough time, I also have a life which includes family, my research and my business that I need to run as well. My life needs to come before whatever I am doing out of the goodness of my heart. I also advised that if they are looking for prompt answers they should think about hiring a professional to do their research. I then added that I have requested numerous times for vital records which they have not provided to me.
Two days later, I received a reply and to my surprise it was an apology. This person went on and on about how others have said they would help and never follow through.
So, I put this question to all of you. What kind of neighbor are you?
Most people I have met or interacted with in the genealogy neighborhood are helpful. And, to be perfectly honest, I now that my genealogy neighbors/friends are in my corner no matter what I need. From help with my research, to a joke when I need to smile, to a prayer for family/friends/pets when needed.
Please keep in mind when you interact with our genealogy neighborhood, we are a giving bunch. But, we will not tolerate this type of behavior. I believe these saying’s truly fit the situation, “you catch more bees with honey” and “if you cannot play nice, don’t play at all.”
Please help keep our neighborhood friendly!