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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, June 26, 2006

Friendly Obligations

So what makes you a better friend, putting up with another friend's bad habits or calling that friend out on those habits?

I ask, because a close friend in another city was telling me earlier about being frustrated with a new co-worker-turned-friend. The new co-worker moved to my friend's city a few months ago to start the new job. So my friend, remembering what it was like to have to establish social connections in a new town, has made it a point to make the new co-worker feel welcome.

My friend has introduced the new co-worker to other friends. My friend has held a semi-party in honor of the new co-worker. My friend has regularly invited the new co-worker out for social events.

With each invitation and increasingly though the new co-worker spends these social outings griping about the new city and lamenting that it isn't enough like the old city. The griping has escalated to the point of being whiney, I hear. No casual chatter, no laughing and joking, no curiosity about off-the-beaten path treasures of the new city, just whining, whining, whining.

I urged my friend to check the new co-worker and tell that person to shut the hell up and try enjoying life for once. But my friend, being a much nicer person than me, is loathe to do that for fear of offending the new co-worker.

I say my friend has fulfilled the new friend obligation by being defacto social guide to the new co-worker for a period of several months now. All bets are off. If it were me, my logic would be "If you can take my company and that of my friends, then you can take my advice too. So don't expect the benefit of my companionship, if all you want is someone to listen to you describe your glass-half-empty life."

Then again, maybe I'm too harsh.



  • The friend should step in. It's ok to whine a bit when you first get there, but after a while, make it comfortable. When you show up in a group of people who live in a place, don't constantly bitch about it. You'd be complaining about their home. You wouldn't let a friend go about with toilet paper stuck to the shoe.

    By Anonymous ChrisA, at 9:16 PM  

  • Id tell the coworker to shut the hell up or go back to the old place. If I were in a good mood, I would say something like you need to bloom where you're planted, which is a nice way to say shut the hell up or go back.

    By Blogger Wide Lawns Subservient Worker, at 11:29 PM  

  • yeah or just stop inviting them to hang out. that would probably be my solution.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:54 AM  

  • Even allowing for 'displacement disorientation' I'd say that the newcomer was way out of line bitching about everything & whining all the time. What kind of way is that to thank people for taking the trouble & making the effort to welcome them?

    For that matter, what kind of effect is it likely to have on their reception of other newcomers? Will they remember their bad experience with the whiner & not be so friendly another time? Hope not.

    Of course, it could be that whiner actually needs to visit a Doctor about their condition. But more likely they just need to Get A Grip!

    Oh, & Respect to yr friend for bothering!

    By Anonymous Bronchitikat, at 3:27 AM  

  • A person can only take so much. Your friend is cool for hanging with the newcomer, but after a few months that obligation can be cut back a little. At this point, the new kid should have found some other people to spend time with...unless the whining has repulsed anyone else from wanting to be around them.

    By Anonymous Michelle, at 10:14 AM  

  • I just grin and go on about my life. Anyone who chooses to act that miserable is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. And they'll get what they feel they so richly deserve.

    By Blogger og, at 10:50 AM  

  • Og, where ya been? We were beginning to think you didn't like us anymore.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:18 AM  

  • Tell your friend to say "be here now" and move on. This whiner probably whined and moaned about the last city before the move, saying "I can't wait to get out", only to get to the new city to say "this place sucks worse than the last one". The truth is that every place sucks for people like that. Even if they were placed in Heaven, Valhalla, Nirvana, or in the middle of any of the adult Disney Worlds of Amsterdam, Bangkok, Rio, Santo Domingo, Nassau, Monte Carlo, Prague, Hong Kong, Taipei, Barcelona, Istanbul, Sydney, Phuket or Las Vegas, the response would still be "this place sucks". The only way it wouldn't suck is if the person were King of the Entire Universe, at which time the "this place sucks" motif would transmogrify into "this place blows".

    Tell the whiner to get drunk, get laid, get stoned, get milk, get whatever it takes to shut the eff up and stop whining like a 5 year old with a full bladder. If he/she can't do that then that person needs some alone time--give it to them.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 11:30 AM  

  • I agree with big daddy. Chances are this whiner will always find something to whine about, so perhaps the best solution would be to slowly cut the co-worker off from social activities.

    Something similar happened to me in grad school. I was in a good solid group of friends who always socialized together. One year, a new student showed up who we were nice to and she ended up being a pain in the tooshie, a complainer and a rabble rouser who was very disruptive and rude. We all collectively had to "white lie" to her sometimes about social activities. We just didn't know what else to do. As we were forced to hang out with this person in class and in "school" activities, we also didn't want to create an uncomfortable situation in our professional lives.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 12:40 PM  

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