On the one hand, I hate being taken advantage of. On the other, I am sometimes the biggest pushover. I struggle between the two, vacillating between wanting to fight for what I feel I deserve and wondering if the fight is really worthwhile. Sometimes I find that I do not even really want or need what I demand, but rather, all I really want is for the other to recognize that I was wronged. And more often than not, a simple apology will make everything alright. A simple, sincere apology.

Not long ago, I decided to indulge and treat myself to the luxury of having our van detailed. We were taking a road trip and it desperately needed a cleaning. And with four small kids littering the backseats, it was a job I didn't feel brave enough to do. So when my friend told me about a service that would come to my house and do the car detailing, I decided to splurge.

It was not a day when I had extra time to spareI scheduled the appointment for the day before our trip. Needless to say, it was not a day when I had extra time to spare. So when the man told me it would take an hour and a half, that is exactly what I scheduled in. He came on time and began the cleaning. After two hours, I went outside expecting to be able to drive away to do the rest of my errands. To my shock, he hadn't done the majority of the van.

I asked him what the situation was and he told me he would need at least another hour. I was not impressed. He said that he didn't have a certain spray he needed so he had left to try and find it. In the end, he couldn't get it and wouldn't be able to get a certain spot out from the floor. At this point, I was furious. I didn't have the time to wait and yet desperately needed his service. I felt absolutely trapped.

He asked if there was anything he could do, but there really wasn't. He offered to come back later, but it didn't help. And it wasn't like I wanted him rushing. I was paying a lot of money and I wanted the job done well. I went in the house fuming.

Yes, he had apologized, but I felt cheated. I felt I deserved a discount. He hadn't offered one and I wasn't even sure what to demand. I figured I would mention one more time how upset I was when he was done and would tell my friend not to use him. If this was how he did business, then maybe he didn't deserve any.

I arranged a ride to my next errand so I was no longer pressured with the time, but was still quite annoyed that I had to make that effort. When I went outside to tell him that he could take as long as he needed, he thanked me and again apologized. And then, to my utter shock he said, "Please know that I am not charging you at all for this. I feel terrible that this is taking so long, so the service is completely on me."

Whoa. Wasn't expecting that. And actually, I wasn't even sure what to do or say. Granted, it took twice as long as he said, but he was doing an incredibly good job, and there were two people that now were putting in a total of four hours at my home. How could I not pay them something?

Free? That was more than I would ever have imaginedNow, if he had told me that because of my inconvenience he was going to do it for 25% off the price, I would have been happy he offered a discount and would have paid the discounted price. If he would have given me a coupon for a free cleaning in the future, I would have taken it as well. Even if he would have offered 50% off, I would have been thrilled and paid him half. But free? That was more than I would ever have imagined.

So what did I do? I paid him the full price. And I profusely thanked him. And I took his fliers to spread the word about how great his business was.

Why? Because he was willing to lose it all to make me happy. And so in the end, he gained exactly what he would have had he not offered anything, but rather than an annoyed customer who would have told people not to use him, he will get not only my business, but that of my friends as well.

This man taught me a most valuable lesson when it comes to relationships. When we wrong another, we are often reluctant to apologize. And if we do, rarely do we want to take the blame, and certainly not the full blame. And it could be that we really do not need to. But, if our main concern is ensuring that the other is happy, that the other does not feel slighted or harmed, it means risking that we might actually be saying sorry for more than we need to. And when we do, the person may just take us up on it; they may just leave it at that and keep the blame on us. After all, I didn't need to pay him a cent. It was a risk. He ended up with full pay, but he was willing to walk away with nothing.

This is why Judaism teaches us that when we are willing to give, to truly give, we receive as well. This is why the Hebrew word natan, "to give," is the same if you read it front to back or back to front. When we give, another person is able to receive, and even when we receive, we have given the other person the ability to give to us. Either way, we are giving. This is also why the word for love, ahavah has hava at its root, meaning "to give." How do we truly show our love, truly show that we care? When we can focus not on ourselves, but on what the other person really needs.

I am happy that the spot in my van didn't come outThat is what my car detailer realized that day. The irony was that he went out of his way to do his job even better. He was delayed because he was trying to remove a stain. But when he left and delayed the cleaning process, he hadn't realized that what was most important to me that day was my time. Time was more precious to me than a perfect stain-free van. Granted, I wanted it clean, but I needed my hour more than the spot removed.

But when I told him that, he recognized it. He apologized and took responsibility. He realized that while he had been trying to help me, he hadn't actually helped me and that he had been more concerned with a job well done on his part than what his customer needed. That was why he offered to do the job for free. Because his main concern was my happiness, he was not willing to charge me for something that didn't make me happy.

In the end, my car was beautifully clean. Not that it stayed that way for more than a few days, but that is certainly not his fault and another story altogether. And I am actually happy that in the end the spot in my van didn't come out. I actually love my spot. For that spot carries a profound message. It is my reminder of true humility, the need to apologize in sincerity, and that when we are willing to risk it all for the happiness of another, we will gain more than we could have possibly taken on our own.