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Rude Awakening

By Mink Stole | Posted 8/17/2005

A few years ago I got a job cleaning offices. It didnít pay particularly well, just a couple of bucks above minimum wage, but the benefits were great. Also, because it was an evening job, it gave me my days free to do my artwork. My art is going well, Iíve sold a few paintings, and I have just been taken on by a halfway decent gallery. The benefits of the job are too important to give up, however, and Iím still emptying trash cans and vacuuming carpets five evenings a week. Sometimes there are people working late when I come in. Some are nice and friendly, and have even taken an interest in my art career, but there are others who are downright nasty. One often tells me heís too busy to be bothered now and makes me wait up to an hour to get in to finish my job. Another tells whoeverís on the other end of the phone that the cleaning geek is here in a voice so loud I canít miss it. I realize these people make a lot more money than I do, but I donít understand what gives them the right to be so rude. Iíll be able to leave this job one day, but there are a lot of other people who arenít so lucky, and it makes me mad to see them treated like trash.

Janitor Joe

Every waiter in the world has horror stories of customers who run him or her ragged for hours, then leave barely a 10 percent tip. Every temp, every nanny, and every housekeeper can tell tales of overly demanding, capricious, abusive, and impossible-to-please bosses. Professionals of all kinds can tell of clients who think their fees entitle them not only to the services theyíre paying for, but also the right to exact these services with an overlordly sneer and a total disregard for the time and feelings of the provider.

Some of these arrogant, overentitled boors are trained from birth that they have these rights; others feel such a need to overcompensate for their own feelings of inadequacy that they live for the chance to dominate someone or anyone; and some people just never learned manners at all. In fairy tales, these guys often get their comeuppance by being turned out of their castles and forced to serve those they formerly abused (who, in the tradition of the genre, are invariably generous and forgiving), and in real life some of them do get sent to prison. But for the most part, until or unless we can change jobs, we have to be content with the knowledge that, while we get to leave them behind when our workday is over, theyíre stuck with themselves 24/7.

 

Iím 18 and still living at home with my parents. The idea, which seemed like a good one at the time, was that Iíd work a part-time job and save money while attending a local two-year college, then switch to a four-year college to finish my degree. Now, however, Iím wondering if I didnít make a mistake. I recently met a man who works for my father. Heís older, divorced, and a custodial father, but we have a lot in common, and he treats me like I have a brain and sense. My parents are just the opposite. My mother found out we were friends and freaked. She told me not to see him anymore and said if she finds out Iíve disobeyed her sheíll tell my dad. My dad has always been overprotective of me, so this could cost my friend his job. I certainly wouldnít want that to happen, but Iím angry that my parents feel they can run my life like this. It may be a mistake to get to know this man better, but I donít think it is. Anyway, isnít that something I should be allowed to find out for myself? Should I insist on my right to keep seeing him, even if it means lying to my parents, or should I just give in?

Itís My Life

If your mother were writing me, IML, I would tell her to let you keep seeing this guy. Not because heís so great, because I donít know that, but because by forbidding you to see him sheís making him so much more attractive. Youíd think, since the whole basis of our Judeo-Christian culture is the inability of humans to resist forbidden fruit, that everyone would know this by now, but obviously the lesson was lost on your mom. However tempting this guy is, though, it would be best if you stopped seeing him. While I appreciate and even applaud your desire to challenge parental authority, you need to find another way to do it.

Itís remotely possible that this man is the very best one youíll ever meet, and that giving him up would be a much bigger mistake than sneaking around behind your parentsí back to meet him, but thereís more at stake here than whether you get your own way or not. If he isnít already, this man needs to be made aware of what your friendship could cost him. While itís true you do have the right to make your own mistakes, you do not have the right to make someone else pay for them.

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More from Mink Stole

Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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