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Thursday, September 22, 2005

SWEET AND SOUR MONEY

I used to work with this guy Dan whose sole purpose in life was to make sure that EVERYONE liked him. Ironically, he tried so hard that nobody did. Two of the most annoying things he did were:

1) call me "Honey." He did this twice. I made it clear that I preferred "Tom."

2) insist on paying for everything. Now, usually if someone wants to pay for something, I have no problem, believe me. In fact, what makes me uncomfortable is even having the conversation of who's paying for what. Ideally, when you're with friends that you're comfortable with and one person pays for a meal or drinks or whatever, you just make an effort to remember so that the next time, you pay. Theoretically, everything evens out in the end. But Dan would never let me pay for ANYTHING. I mean it was weird. I'm not just talking about meals. When we would go to a convenient store and I would put a candy bar and a soda on the counter, he would whip out the bills and insist on paying. Really what he would do is out-insist me because I would end up arguing the case of why it made no sense for him to pay for something that has nothing to do with him whatsoever. But as I said, what makes me uncomfortable is even having the conversation so usually with Dan, I would give in without too much protesting.

Until one time. We were at a big conference at Staples Center downtown. We met at a cafeteria-type restaurant there. We each got our trays and filled them up and met back at the register where of course, he started insisting that he pay. Well, I kind of lost it. I didn't exactly yell at him, but I used a mess of expletives ("fucking bullshit" I believe was the general topic) to get my point across.

Boy, did I get my point across. The rest of the day, all I heard was, "I'm so sorry. You're absolutely right. I shouldn't be paying for you. I'll never do it again. I promise."

I thought about it a lot after that. Why was it so important to Dan that he spend his money on me? And why did it bother me so much? I think it's a matter of control. Constantly scouting for ways to make me like him, Dan saw money as a way to control my opinion of him. And not wanting to be indebted to someone I didn't really like, I couldn't even give up the control of paying for my chicken salad sandwich.

Although he never tried to pay for my stuff again, Dan continued to search for friendship in other ways ("Honey," e.g.) until he moved on to another job. I haven't seen him in years.

Last weekend was my friend Julia's birthday and she and Cindy and I went to the L.A. County Fair and I inadvertently started paying for everything left and right. Tickets, rides, snacks until Julia said very clearly, "OK you have to stop doing that." She was right, of course, so I did.

3 Comments:

At 9/22/2005 1:14 PM, DasGort said...

Well put, sir. Just cruising though.

 
At 9/23/2005 1:36 PM, DasGort said...

Man, I'll tell you what. You have some of the most entertaining posts I've seen in a while. I've now read virtually all of them and have laughed quite loudly a number of times. Those in the cubes next to me have started to wonder more than they already had about my sanity.

You, sir, make me laugh. Thanks.

 
At 9/27/2005 11:49 AM, Anonymous said...

i had no idear....
- julia

 

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