Win / Win

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale, with assistance from Steve in St. Paul before he left for the long weekend.

It was a week ago today that a “Congress of Baboons” from in and around the Twin Cities showed up at Steve’s house in St. Paul, to rescue his and his neighbor’s yards from a very large branch that had fallen from a very tall tree. Here’s what we were dealing with:

It turns out quite a number of baboons know their way around a chain saw (Ben, tim, Sherrilee, Linda, just to name those present), and who could resist tim’s call to duty?

We ended up amazing ourselves with what a goodly number can accomplish in 3 or 4 hours. Limbs were downed and cut into manageable chunks …

… brush was cleared and four loads of it hauled away;

… and finally the last “threads” were severed and the biggest limb…

…hit the ground with a resounding thud. Steve said that, although he was in the house (possibly making Kool-Aid) at the time, he knew it by the way the whole house shook.

Then we rested:

There were thirteen of us including Steve, spouses, and teens.

The Crew: Catherine (mig), S&H, Lisa, tim, The Teenager, Sherrilee, Bill, Robin, Barbara, Linda, Michael (BiR’s husband), Ben

(Lisa and Robin recapped the event in more detail here
about 2/3 the way down.)

I understand how overwhelmed with gratitude is the person on the receiving end of the giving. Here is one of Steve’s “thank you”s:

In some ways it’s more fun to be on the “giving” end, and I’ve read articles to the effect that it really is easier to give than receive. Other writings cover the fact that it is natural to want to help. Even infants will become concerned when they hear another baby in distress, and toddlers will actively try to help when they see a need.

I’ve been thinking what were the motivators that got a dozen people out on a lovely July Saturday to hack down a hackberry tree. I’ve come up with these:

– we got to be outdoors, and it wasn’t 102° F., or even 95°
– those who know how to handle power tools got to hone their skill
– we got exercise
– we got Kool-Aid
– we knew at the end of the day we’d been useful
– community: we got to hang with other “baboons” – it was a party.

At the end of the day, we ALL felt good, at least mentally. It was a win for Steve, and a win for baboons.

What’s the best example you can remember of a Win-Win situation you’ve experienced or observed?

59 thoughts on “Win / Win”

  1. Good morning. Great pictures, good story, wonderful event. I couldn’t participate and would like to have been there. You guys are something else!

    I have been involved in a number volunteer activities that were win-win situations. The most rewarding of these is probably my participation in the Seed Savers Exchange. I like gardening and by becoming a Seed Saver I was able to come in contact with a whole group of other great gardeners. Also I added a very interesting activity to my gardening practices, seed saving.


  2. when the occasion for an evening out happens out and i go to a play or concert, i discovered a while back that intermission drinks can be purchased ahead of time. get a glass of wine for heading in before the play and also have one sitting there when intermission happens rather than having to wait in line and then drink fast to get it down before the play resumes. win win


  3. Win/wins for me include: grown children inheriting lake cabin, relatives in town with pool in back yard, living too far away to help with Steve’s tree, involvement in a fictitious romantic relationship.

    I’m joking of course! Well, except for the tree part.

    Kidding again! You Babooners are such good folks! I would have loved being in on the clean up!

    (Somewhere I read that excessive use of exclamation marks makes the writer appear juvenile, so I use them as much as possible!)


  4. I once had an old VW Rabbit. It ran great but the body, a unibody, had fatal cracks in it and was in danger of splitting in two. At one point, I asked my mechanic if I would have any warning of the separation, like if there’d be a noise or if I would just suddenly be sitting on the pavement. He said that I would have warning.

    Long story short, he found a body for $300 and charged me $350 to transfer the innards of my cracking car into the “new” body. I drove it for 4 years until it was totaled by a young man, in his father’s GMC Yukon, who ran a red light, hit me and a median, mowed down two signs flipped and did an upside down slide to the alley. No broken bones or visible injuries.

    So much to be grateful for:
    *In plain view of a cop on the corner who happened to see the whole thing.
    *There was a van obstructing my view on the left so I was proceeding cautiously into the intersection rather than jumping into the green light.
    *Everything under the hood was destroyed, front axle snapped from the force of the hit, seems he stepped on it in the middle of the block trying to make the light. But the driver’s seat and door were untouched.
    *My only injuries were 3 bruises: 1. a diagonal line across the side of my neck where the seatbelt did its job. 2. a round bruise on my left knee made by the knob of the handle to roll down the window. 3. a bruise on the top of my right foot as it came of the gas and must have hit the clutch pedal, somehow.
    *And moments later, as I stood by the curb, bewildered and shaking, I heard my name being called, friends rolled up and took charge.
    *It was in the beginning days of computers and I had been bothered by a stiff neck. The hit must have acted like a chiropractic adjustment as my stiff neck disappeared, never to return.

    Took 2 months but insurance paid me with a check for $1000 for my $650 car a pretty good investment return after using the car for 4 years. So, a good deal for me and the people on the busy corner were spared the view of a mangled body and had an opportunity to learn what can happen when one runs a red light. And the kid in the Yukon got off without serious charges. I think killing someone with his car may have affected his life. Although, his dad probably gave him some consequences.


      1. dumb luck, yes. grace, yes. karma, musta used a lot at that moment. And the van that was blocking my view that led to my cautious start. One? two? seconds earlier with a tad more gas and it would have been messier than it was. I can get faint by thinking of how close it was.


    1. I would HOPE the kid was shaken enough by his “close call” (and yours) that he may have modified his driving habits after that…


      1. I hope so too. Although, not a word or apology from him or his father. It was on a city street during rush hour. 31st Street and 1st Avenue. The cop said the kid hit me at about 45-50 miles an hour, insane.


        1. 45-50 miles an hour is totally insane in that area, Nan. So glad you survived and got some good out of it.


  5. Give me baboons
    who will cut, saw, and prune
    who will help good friend Steve
    in a pinch

    Good baboons true
    who will work til they’re through
    who will help out
    and never get blue.

    What a great job you all did! Let’s see, a win, win situation? I’ve got husband thinking of an example. Will get back when he comes up with something.


  6. To paraphrase Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed baboons can change Steve’s little corner of the world.” And they did. A remarkable effort recorded for a great story with pictures.


    1. The wisdom of Anthropology is echoed by the observations from Primatology:
      “We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place–or not to bother”
      ― Jane Goodall


  7. Ok, here goes. Husband says our marriage is a win-win situation (thanks, Sweetie!)

    Many years ago when my mother was still teaching Grade 3, she and my dad befriended a single guy, Rob, who was also a Grade 3 teacher. He was sort of from the area but his family had moved to Wisconsin and he didn’t really have any family nearby. His dad was an alcoholic, and his family life had been pretty rough. (I should add that he was only a little younger than my brother would have been had he not died in infancy). My mom mentored him at work, my dad took him on fishing trips and hung out with him after work, and got him into sports officiating with him. He met and married another teacher, they had kids, and my parents were adopted grandparents for them. I eventually left home and went to college, and as my parents have aged, Rob has always been there when I couldn’t be there to check on them and make sure they are ok. . He was lucky enough to share in an inheritance from his wife’s brother, and was able to retire early and live off his investments. Although he moved to Sioux Falls, he still phones my folks and visits and keeps them up on news about his kids and grandkids. It is a win-win situation for all concerned. My parents got a son, I got a big brother and some peace of mind living far away from my parents, he got some positive role models as well as parents, and his kids got another set of grandparents.


  8. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    These pictures are impressive. Lou and I were oohing and aahing at the picture of tim on the ladder in his birkies with the chainsaw. If that was me, I’d have fallen off the ladder in those shoes, then amputated a foot with the chansaw. I wished Lou and I could have added to the group, but we had our own projects going here.

    Also, I am no longer much help with physical labor anymore. I had a brief fantasy of bringing treats. I thought I would be the “June Lockhart” (of Lassie fame). In the old Lassie show she was always wearing a prim dress, high heels and an apron, toting coffee and sandwiches across the rocks to “the men” while they rescued Timmie from the ever present cave, well, abandoned mine shaft, puma, or boogey man. Baboons were rescuing Steve from the branch. Then I realized that Steve got that treat duty as chief Kool-Aid maker and chief. Did he wear high heels to deliver the Kool Aid.

    I’ll have to think of a win-win. So far I’ve been too busy remembering rescues of Timmie from the well.


  9. the world of sales has long been ruled by the philosophy that no onn want so to be sold anything. you help people get what they want instead of trying to jam your goal down their throat. remember santa in miracle on 34th street sending people to gimbles for the fire truck macys didnt carry? the people who are buying stuff dont care what the seller wants they hope the seller is looking after what they want. nobody cares what you want till they know that you care


  10. OT: Great weekend in the Twin Cities if you’re looking for something to do! (!!!!!) Aquatennial, Art Fair at St. Kate’s, (10 – 5 Saturday only) which we hope to take in, along with the Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen where Linda’s team will race –


      1. At the end of this video they show what must be the opening “parade” – I want to get there for that next time!


  11. Any time you have a surplus of time, physicality or resources you can spare, you have already won. If you use some of that surplus to solve a problem or improve a situation in the world around you, you win again. Unless you’re a Republican, of course. Then, it’s a zero-sum game where everything is potentially yours and any benefit someone else gets is a loss to you.


  12. Nice write-up Barb and Steve, and those pictures really tell the story, especially the last one. Take a look at the smiles on those twelve faces; I don’t think that’s just from Kool-Aid. Great job everyone.

    My life is so full of win-win situations that it’s hard to choose just one as the best. I agree with bill that when you give of your abundance, it adds to it rather than distracts from it. And how you define abundance is an individual thing. Some of the most generous people I know don’t have a lot compared to many others, yet their generous spirits compel them to share what they have and they give generously of their time. I’ve already revealed on the trail what an impossible salesperson I am. I recently sold a set of brand new stainless steel pots and pans for a very low price to a mother of five children. When she took everything out of the box to see what all was included, she hesitated when she saw the frying pan. I realized immediately that her concern was that the frying pan was too small, so I offered to throw in a larger one that I had used only a few times, but one that I didn’t really need. She was pleased, I was happy and husband got a good laugh.


    1. PJ – this time, there was actually only one bottle of wine, and the Kool-Aid wasn’t spiked. There was just no time!


  13. My most recent win-win: arranging play time for Daughter with friends. She gets time with kids her own age (instead of boring old mom who doesn’t always energy to keep up), I get time to do boring grown-up stuff (like chores…and sometimes even a nap), and the friend’s folks sometimes even get extra time for their boring grown-up stuff. It’s a win for everyone. Not quite the same level as taking a tree limb out of Steve’s back yard, but gosh some days it’s about as satisfying (especially days like today where I manage a nap).

    And bravo Baboons! Excellent work getting the limb out of the yard, cleaned up, all without a trip to the emergency room for anyone. Yeah!


  14. Evening.
    Last Saturday seems like a long time ago. Just a week? Really? Huh.

    I’ve been busy all day. Too busy I guess for a friend of mine who is bordering on pestering me about when we can get together. Yes, I do want to get together but just because YOU don’t have anything to do over the summer doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to do over the summer! Grrrr!!! There. Exclamation points.

    My bachelor party was a fairly mild affair with just a bunch of guys sitting around talking (including our minister whom no one knew so they didn’t know he was the minister) and there was a joke told with a rather crude punchline ending with “…so you Win or you win!” But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    Honestly, I just can’t come up with things. …. mind like a steel sieve I tell you….


    1. Here’s a Ben-related win-win from my world: I wanted bread starter, and you were traveling to Mpls to get theater stuff. So you dropped by work and brought me starter: I got to meet you, I got starter…and I got bread. Then I killed my starter so I convinced you to stop for lunch on another trip for supplies: more starter, a very pleasant lunch. Win-win, at least for me. 😀


      1. Oh,Yeah! That was a win win! And the same for the tree situation; playing with chainsaws and being able to put faces with names. Win Win for me.


        1. My starter is “stalled” in the fridge at present, but when the heat passes I will probably re-start it to make another batch or two of bread. Will gladly share a starter when I have one ready.


  15. I think there are a lot of things that all of us regularly that are win-win. It is usually a good thing to help others and this gives us a good feeling. Being a parent or a teacher or doing any number of things for others helps us to be better people.


  16. Moving my mom here (within a mile of my home) was a lot of work, and it took its toll. But it has been a win for all of us – we get to see each other often, and are able to share much more of our lives. We’ve been able to take her to concerts and plays, she invites us to events at her place. We get to play piano duets and walk to the Dairy Queen.

    (OT) Which reminds me, I just read that today is National Ice Cream day –
    I think I’ll be patriotic today.


    1. Still no winners announced on the Kemp’s page – wouldn’t today be a good day for them to make the announcement? Drumroll, please!!!!


  17. I must repeat myself a lot but Rock Bend is a big win for everybody. We have so much fun planning it and we work very hard to put it on. Everybody has fun, no matter what role they play. The musicians love to play at our Festival and then they get a good meal for their efforts. It’s FREE FREE FREE for everybody, even tim, and we’re so happy we can do it every year.

    Please check out our updated website: and “like” us on Facebook.


    1. Krista, that link doesn’t work and when I Googled Rock Bend, the link listed for the 2012 Rock Bend Festival doesn’t work either. I did manage to open the 2011 link and the Facebook page, but something seems amiss with the other two links. Just thought you’d want to know.


  18. Substitute teaching was a win/win situation for me. I did have some difficulties with maintaining order which were not much fun. Mostly, I was able to come up with ways to deal with those difficulties. Even on the days with things didn’t go well I enjoyed meeting the kids and working with them. Some of the kids told me that I was a good substitute teacher and some of the teachers thanked me for being willing to come in and fill in for them. I have many good memories and stories to tell that come from my work as a substitute teacher. I did earn some extra money, but I thought of subbing more as a community service than as a source of income.


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