I wanted to share a story about the most shameless mooch I’ve ever met. I’ll call her Brittany.
I met Brittany, a sophomore at my then college, during my senior year. She struck up a conversation with me as I was walking to my dorm, carrying a brownie I’d just bought. Apparently, my acquaintance had told her that I was really good at physics. (I’m not.) She was struggling in her physics class. Alas and woe! If only she had someone to tutor her! If only some kind soul, perhaps someone who was really good at physics, could tutor her for free!
I knew exactly what she was getting at and tried to express sympathy without committing to anything, but eventually she straight-up asked me if I could tutor her. At that point, I felt kind of bad for her and decided it couldn’t hurt to help her out. “I’m busy this weekend,” I told her, “..but we can set up a time next Tuesday and I’ll see if I can help you out.”
She thanked me profusely. Moments later, she noticed the brownie I was holding. “Can I have some of that?” she asked. “I want to try all the treats from the cafeteria, but I don’t want to spend my dining dollars.” Apparently my dining dollars were fair game. Right after I’d agreed to do her a favor, no less. I handed her a piece of the brownie, wondering if I’d made a mistake in humoring her.
The following Saturday morning, I was woken up by the sound of someone banging on my door and yelling my name. Surprise–it was Brittany. “I need you to help me with my homework!”, she yelled through the locked door. Hadn’t I told her I wasn’t up for that over the weekend? Blame it on being half-asleep and just wanting her to go away, but I told her to come back in a couple of hours and I’d see what I could do.
The tutoring session itself was time-consuming and deeply frustrating, although I can’t blame that on her manners. It did make me aware that I wasn’t exactly doing her a trivial favor. Why exactly had I agreed to do this for free?
Monday was the last straw. Brittany found me working in the library and plopped down in the seat next to me, looking distressed. “Can I have some money?”, she asked. “I spent all of mine and now I can’t afford toothpaste.” Once I’d picked my jaw up off the floor, I told her I wasn’t comfortable with giving money to someone I’d just met that week. I decided then and there that I’d go through with the Tuesday tutoring session I’d promised her, but after that I was cutting her off. Otherwise, she’d probably be asking me for a kidney next.
Come Tuesday, I explained to her that I didn’t plan to tutor her again. I reminded her that I’d met her only four days ago, and every interaction since then had involved her asking me for a favor. I told her that she hadn’t given me any indication that she was interested in getting to know me, that I felt used, and that I wasn’t going to play along anymore.
She looked disappointed and embarrassed, and for a minute I felt bad. The poor kid probably just didn’t have good social skills. I knew what that was like. Hopefully she’d learn from this experience that it isn’t appropriate to ask for large or numerous favors from near-strangers, and– “So if I get to know you as a person and become your friend, then you’ll
Yeah, her takeaway was that as long as she pretended to actually like me and went through the motions of conversation, I’d be at her beck and call again. I told her that wasn’t going to happen, and I haven’t seen her since. 0725-14