Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nights out, day jobs: Darnell week continues

As luck would have it, my guest week with official My Important Drama revelry expert Darnell is a good week for drinking-related advice columns. From today's Baggage Check:
Every time I go out with my housemate, she ends up wasted. We're just friends, but it always becomes my job, as the guy, to take care of her. I'm tired of having to cut my night short or miss out on meeting people because they assume we're together. I don't want to come across as selfish, and I know I could just stop going out with her, but we're all in the same circle. — Involuntary Baby Sitter
Andrea's response:
It sounds like we have two layers of problems here: your friend's drinking, and the logistics of your friend's drinking. No doubt you're being affected by both, but if you truly value the friendship, you'll prioritize the deeper issue here, which is that she needs help.

Sure, emphasize those logistical issues — by explaining how much her drinking affects others and by cutting off the enabling. But with this circle of friends of yours, help her seek out treatment and/or an AA meeting. I can understand your frustration, but the longer you view this as a problem of circumstance rather than a serious mental health issue, the larger a disservice you do your friend — and the more you guarantee the problem will continue.
Darnell: Hah, she calls him out but good. I don't think is actually correct, but it is a good zing. I'm not surprised that advice columnists jump to alcoholism but this story does not paint a picture of alcoholism for me.

Lulu: I guess it depends on how often they go out? I mean, he could have written the same letter with the detail, "Every Arbor Day, when my friends meet up for our annual bar night, my friend gets wasted..." and the drinking problem issue would not have been raised. But they could just as easily be going out nightly.

Darnell: Even then, it is probably just a person who doesn't know her limit. Because if the story is that their entire circle of friends goes out to a bar every night - they are all alcoholics, and in no place to intervene. An intervention is not going to fly well if the problem is that when you all go out drinking together, the intervenee gets drunk. "Lulu, I'm worried that when we're drinking together you get shitfaced a half an hour before me."

Lulu: So let's leave aside who may or may not have a drinking problem; we don't have enough information to judge, and if they do have drinking problems, that doesn't seem like what they want solved. There's still the issue that people think they are together.

Darnell: Here's the thing as I see it. He doesn't need to stop hanging out with her, or even have a talk with her. He needs to stop shouldering the responsibility of babysitting her when she drinks. There is a breed of person who thinks this is a holy responsibility when it is not. The "my job, as the guy" is telling.

Lulu: Yeah--I noticed that, but I thought he was saying, "everyone thinks it's my job, as the guy..." But you're right, he's just saying, "it's my job, as the guy..."

Darnell: Men, am I right?

Lulu: Yeah, he needs to let go of the idea that it's his responsibility to protect her and be all chivalrous and whatnot.

Darnell: Let your roommate get wasted, lost, and gangbanged a little. Maybe then she'll cut that shit out.

Lulu: I feel like there's a middle ground, where, when you get a ride or head home, you get her, but other than that, she is on her own.

Darnell: That would work out just fine. The other side of that coin is that she might be the kind of person who hearts the attention, in which case, the more he white knights for her, the more she is going to behave that way.

Lulu: It seems like he's taking on the stand-in boyfriend role voluntarily. If he's worried that women will think he is unavailable, I feel like hitting on a few of them would clear things up.

Darnell: Uh-oh. I'm on the cusp of suggesting they should just start banging. Again.

Lulu: It does kind of seem that way, doesn't it? He's already halfway to acting like her boyfriend. But it seems like he is not that into her.

Darnell: I know, I'm suggesting he get into her. Zammo! Penisvagina.

Lulu: I can't tell if she is into him. She might like the damsel in distress thing because she thinks it is the way into his pants. Her: "Every time I get wasted we end up at home with him gently dabbing cold compresses to my fevered brow... one of these days, we're gonna end up making out!" Him: "WTF I do not need this cold compress bullshit AGAIN"

Darnell: Then he is not only encouraging bad behavior, he is leading her on when she is at her most vulnerable. The cad!

Lulu: I don't think it's actually a wonderful idea to make a move because they live together and that could be weird. But if he's not going to, he should stop acting like her boyfriend SOMETIMES.

Darnell: I would be willing to put money on him not talking up any other sexy ladies even when he stops babysitting.

Lulu: You mean he'd hit on girls if he really wanted to--he's talked himself into believing this is the reason he doesn't.

Darnell: Yeah. Then he would be without the excuse that they are all avoiding his big ugly face because they think she is his girlfriend. I may be getting mean towards this guy without reason... Which means, next letter?

Lulu: You're so ambitious. Ashley and I usually only do one!

Darnell: They're on the same page, I can't help myself!
I'm so bored in my job. No one cares about what they're doing, and I don't get any meaningful work. I know it's a tough time to be looking now, but I'm thinking of just quitting. The problem is that my parents won't continue to help me out if I do that (they pay some of my college loans and help with my car insurance). They're worried that I will take forever to get a new job. But I think that if I don't have a job, I'll be more motivated in my search. — Stuck
Darnell: Nope, the meaness isn't going to stop here. This guy is a moron.

Lulu: Andrea's on it, though. I think her advice is good:
I wouldn't be deemed responsible if I encouraged someone to quit a job without having another lined up, especially in this economy (which feels about as strong as my NBA prospects). And the fact that the people who serve as your safety net wouldn't be on board with this plan makes it even more dangerous.

So, why not boost your motivation without shooting yourself in the foot and making your parents angry? Create a reward system for sending out resumes, or set up a bet with one of your friends that puts you out a certain amount of money if you don't do a job search task by a certain date. Make small daily goals and go from there, but do it while still collecting a paycheck.
Darnell: Her advice treats him kind of like a child, but as he is behaving like a big stupid baby, I am okay with it.

Lulu: This also seems like a guy who is saying one thing but means another: "I will be more motivated to find a job if I am unemployed" = "I don't want to work. I want to bang on the drum all day."

Darnell: He may find that scouring job sites, sending out resumes and tailoring cover letters is at least equally boring. Shock!

Lulu: He wants this magic other job that's better and amazing, but if he quits this job before he gets another, he will be, if anything, motivated to take a worse one. Providing his parents stick to their guns and don't support him.

Darnell: And if they do, why would he have any motivation?

Lulu: Unless his parents make his life as unpleasant as possible while supporting him
which I would endorse, if they wrote to me!

Darnell: I would tell them to disown him.

Lulu: I initially thought Andrea said, "Why not boost your motivation by shooting yourself in the foot?"

Darnell: Just go kill yourself, it'll work out for the best.

Lulu: Not kill, maim. Then you'll appreciate what you had!

Darnell: Two feet.

Lulu: And a job. Okay, we may be being needlessly mean to this one now too.

Darnell: No, this one has it coming. He isn't alone either, there have been several stories lately about people being dissatisfied with their jobs even though they were unemployed beforehand.

Lulu: The most recent mimismartypants had a quote from Drew Carey: "Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group that for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar."

Darnell: People are weirdly entitled. When people ask me if I like my job, my answer is invariably: yes, for a job.

Lulu: I do think the idea that you have to get fulfillment out of your job is odd. People are only willing to pay for things they want done, not necessarily things you want to do.

Darnell: And jobs that are fulfilling tend to also be pretty terrible. For example, if you helps kids with cancer you also work insane hours and watch kids die of cancer. Oh, and you get paid less than I do for not helping any people at all. So they are welcome to their spiritual fulfillment.

Lulu: This guy doesn't seem to care about fulfillment, he just wants interest. I say, why not get interest in other parts of your life? Some jobs are actively soul-sucking, but if your job is merely boring, you're fine.

Darnell: Right, that is the real point of work: you suffer through it so that you can better fund your actual interests outside of work.

Lulu: Of course, we obviously have nothing to complain about as I am sitting here doing exactly what I would do if I were home: chatting to my friends and not doing any work.

Darnell: I am "working from home."

Lulu: Nice.

Darnell: Maybe we should be more sympathetic towards this assclown.

Lulu: We are hypocrites, it's true, but that doesn't make him any less wrong!

Darnell: "I don't see why he has a problem with boring work - ah, excuse me, my money bath is ready."

Lulu: Great, I'm laughing out loud--now they know I'm not doing any work.

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