Volunteer's Dilemma

The Volunteer's Dilemma is one we have all faced in our daily lives. Called "mahimilapinatapai" by the people of Tierra del Fuego, the Volunteer's Dilemma describes looking at another person, faced with a choice neither wants to make, even though both will benefit once it is chosen. I believe that in the Yahgan language, it was about two people who have just fallen in love, waiting to see who will be the first to say it out loud. But I usually think about chores.

Let's all go ahead and agree that there are things we could be spend our lives doing that are more fun than taking out the trash. However, as I recall from every housing situation from my 20s, quality of life improves greatly once someone volunteers to run the garbage down to the bin. This also works for doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, cleaning the laundry, making the bed....

The Volunteer's Dilemma shows up in plenty of games, though one of my favorites is Hearts. Keeping someone from Shooting the Moon often nets me some points, which puts me in next-to-last place. This is usually accompanied with a loud sigh and someone proclaiming "Fine, I'll save you all. Again" Volunteering can't give me the win, because there is always a cost to volunteering.