Welcome to Friendzone, Jezebel's column devoted to dealing with the valuable people in your life who you're not humping. Got an issue and looking for guidance? Email email@example.com.
I work in a fairly high pressure, commissioned sales retail environment. We're under a lot of pressure to close deals, and each of our customers will take 30-60 minutes of time on a good day. Lately, two of my work friends have been bringing their preteen and younger children to work with them and letting them run around the store unsupervised. Since I am the youngest, they gravitate toward me like I'm some kind of entertainment pinata. This means that while I'm trying to explain "the internet" to a 65-year-old who's never owned anything more advanced than an adding machine, I have three to four children running around the electronics department that I manage, potentially breaking things, and interrupting to ask questions or tell me to tell their sister something inane. I've talked to the parents about it, and they blame it on difficult spouses or a lack of childcare. I am sympathetic, but I am not paid to be their baby sitter while attempting to do my own fairly difficult job. What should I do before I go insane and punt a child out the front door?
You have got to take your work life back. Stop putting up with this for even one second. You are nobody's mommy and that is just fine. You've spoken to the parents, so it's time to talk to your supervisor. How is he/she allowing this to go on? I understand that childcare is expensive and often difficult to find, but my goodness, one would think these parents would give their children quiet activities to do, like read or color or construct elaborate theories about the identity of the Yellow King on "True Detective." Clearly, Mom and Dad have checked out. That means it's time for you to call in the boss. These people aren't getting paid to bring their kiddos to work.
If you don't want to talk to the boss, then you're going to have to deal with the kids. So here's your script: when a kid approaches you, tell him or her, "Sweetie, I wish I had time to talk, but I really don't. I have to do my job and take care of the customers. Why don't you go talk to Mommy/Daddy and find something else to do?" Redirect their behavior (can you tell I've been reading puppy training manuals?) And do NOT give them candy, or they will forever seek it from you just like a hardened Louisiana detective who forever seeks the identity of a mysterious killer (BTW: my money's on famous twig-sculptor Andy Goldsworthy, but I'm open to other interpretations.) If you give them anything, give them books. Start with H.P. Lovecraft and go from there. May our tentacle-faced friend Cthulhu bless and keep you.
I was raped a few weeks ago and it's been really hard to deal with. It took me a week to process everything that had happened, and then I told my best friend. I said that things were hard, and that I'd appreciate her support throughout this, not like a counselor or anything, just as a friend. Since then, she's been acting like I never told her anything. She asks me, "How are you?" in contexts where it's clear she doesn't want an honest response. She hasn't reached out in any meaningful way, and sometimes when I try to hang out with her alone she defers the situation or brings someone else along. She complains about her problems to me—about her relationship woes, school stresses, etc. without inviting me to open up to her about my own difficulties. I can understand that she might have no idea how to approach this, or that she might think it's best for me to feel like everything is "normal again." But I just can't do that, and I can't help but feel hurt by what seems like a real disregard for my feelings and wellbeing. What can I do?
I'm terribly sorry this happened to you. You were the victim of a violent crime, and I really hope that you seek professional help in order to deal with this situation. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) does vital work to help survivors of sexual assault. If you haven't found a counselor of your own, I suggest you go through their website and see if any of their services appeal to you. You deserve the best possible care and support during this time – as do the 237,868Americans who endure sexual assault each year.
And on that note, let's assume your friend wants to provide support. I imagine your instincts are correct – she has no idea how to approach this and/or is trying to keep things normal. But things are not normal, not right now, anyway – or maybe this is a new normal, a new reality in which she must adjust to the fact that this horrible thing happened to someone she loves. Life goes on, the world continues spinning on its axis, but things are different now. She may be experiencing a wide array of feelings – as are you, I'm guessing.
It's not your job to hold her hand. Your responsibility is to yourself, not to your friend. But with that in mind, I think it'll be helpful for both you and her if you tell her exactly what you told me. See what she says. When the initial conversation concludes, give yourself time to digest it and to see how you feel. If your gut tells you she's being a good friend, go with that. If your gut tells you she's continuing to let you down, I think it may be time to consider looking to others for support. As it is, I hope you have other friends and perhaps family members to whom you can turn in this time of need.
Throughout this process, I hope you are also supported by a counselor who can assist you in the recovery process and with the management of emotional pain. I would also urge you to seek physical care by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE), which will connect you to your local rape crisis center. The center will in turn give advice on local medical care. Note: I am not telling you this because I have an opinion on whether you "should" report the rape to the authorities. I am telling you this because I want you to receive the best possible care on all fronts: emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical.
My husband and I are dealing with a difficult situation with his family that has begun to affect some of our friendships. His little sister is in foster care and we are the most stable, suitable people available to care for her but one of my best friends thinks this is a bad idea. My husband and I are very recently married and in the beginning of our careers, but we would get aid from the state if we became the legal guardians of this child and she is school age, so we could both keep our jobs. So, money would be tight but we would not be impoverished. My friend is concerned that becoming parents unexpectedly in our mid/late 20s will damage our marriage and rob us of our youth. She works with at-risk teens and knows the downfalls of the foster system, yet she has asked us why my husband's sister can't simply remain in foster care. How do I get my friend to accept this change in my life and embrace this child?
You've already made your decision, and I commend you for it. One of the coolest people I know is a teenage girl who was fostered and then legally adopted by relatives. She's smart, confident, studious, funny, and all those other good things. This isn't going to be easy, but it is quite possibly going to be very worthwhile. I think you're doing the most important thing in the world: you're providing happiness, safety, security and love to another individual.
This friend may sound insensitive, but I think she was really trying to protect you from stress and difficulty. However, it's time for her to get on the bus. If she doesn't want to, she's going to get left behind. Your priority is your family, not your friend's opinion or feelings.
Tell her what you want from her. Don't try to convince her. Don't try to sell her on it. She either accepts your choice and commends your sense of duty – if not the actual decision itself – or she loses out on spending time with you and your newly expanded clan. I'm not telling you to dump her. I'm telling you that you literally will not have time for a person who does not accept this decision! And I wish you the best of luck. I just adopted a puppy on Monday and it's kicking my ass, so my hat is off to people who raise actual human creatures.
Image via SuslO/Shutterstock.