Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
I'm a senior in a fairly large public high school. Unlike most of my friends, I don't have a car. I could theoretically take the bus to school, but I try to avoid it as much as possible due in part to the fact that it is a long, inconvenient ride, as well as the hordes of unwashed masses (loud freshmen, mostly) that fill its aisles. Most of my friends congregate in the parking lot after school and to take the bus would also rob me of the social aspect this provides. My mom leaves home hours earlier (and returns hours later) than I do on a daily basis, so that isn’t an option either. To get to and from school, I typically ride with my friend, who lives less than half a mile from my house (In fact, my house is basically on her way to school). Recently, she has started asking me to pay her $5 a week for "gas money" to ride with her, though it doesn't really cost her to drive me. I think she’s just looking for extra cash, and don't think I'm obligated pay her. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
There’s a big difference between “on her way to school” and “basically on her way to school.” The distance between those two concepts is roughly 5 blocks, but concept B is located in a housing subdivision that is situated beyond a (long) stoplight and once you get to concept B you have to wait "two secs!" (actually 180 seconds) for concept B to present itself because concept B is running late this morning which means that, consequently, you are also now running late this morning.
A private chauffeur service that charges $5 per week to transport you to and from your primary travel destination is a steal. Assuming you go to school five days a week, that’s $1 a day. That’s four bits per ride. If you are perturbed about the fact that 100% of your funds may not be going toward the gas that powers the car for the exact amount of time it is transporting you, don't think of it is "gas money." Think of it as “Ah, the price of luxury.”
By the way, I wouldn't look down my nose at the “hordes of unwashed masses” who must rely on the bus for transportation, if I were you. You know what kind of loser has to take the bus to school? You. You are the brokedick who ain’t got a car.
I believe you when you say that the ride on the bus is “long” and “inconvenient.” You know what else is inconvenient when you’re 17? Everything. Childhood was invented a couple hundred years ago to serve as a discrete block of time during which humans could be repeatedly inconvenienced and subjected to the will of adults. It is no surprise that the world does not collapse on its feet to cater to the convenience of a no-car-havin' teen. You are fortunate to have gamed the system (by befriending someone willing to drive you around), but now you're poised to throw that small freedom because you don’t want to cough up $5 a week. (By the way, I doubt your friend intended to play the long con by purchasing a car and then slowly grifting you out of a small fortune in $5 increments. If she wanted to treat her car as a mobile business, she would almost certainly charge you a higher fee and pick up multiple passengers, or at least sell hot dogs out of it.)
By the time you have spent 17 years on this earth, you have doubtless developed the faculties necessary to come up with $1 a day. You describe your high school as large; every morning, ask four people for a quarter. If your school is large enough, maybe you will never have to ask the same person twice. By the end of the year, you might even earn a cool new nickname, which I predict will be "Quarters."
You are right that you are not obligated to pay your friend for doing you a favor. By the same token, she is not obligated to cart you to and fro in her private vehicle. So either cough up the measly pittance, or resign yourself to taking the bus. Might want to get started convincing your friends that a cool place to congregate (Smoke dope? Talk about porns?) at the end of the day is not the parking lot behind your school, but the driveway of your home, where you have been dropped off by the bus.
I've been best friends with two people since childhood - "Beth" and "Carrie." About a year and a half ago, Beth started dating a guy, and promptly fell head over heels for him. Beth thinks that he may ask her to marry him. One thing that he doesn't know about Beth is that Beth was born "Burt" - she had sex reassignment surgery shortly after finishing college. Beth has told us that she doesn't plan on telling him this; Carrie believes that not telling him is wrong and has told me privately that if Beth doesn't tell the guy about it, she will. Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Here is a list of things that are not Carrie’s business:
1. Beth’s business
It is, point blank, not Carrie’s place to discuss intimate details about Beth’s life with Beth’s boyfriend. Considering Beth underwent sex reassignment surgery—a major, life changing procedure—as an adult, one can probably infer that life to that point was not all peaches and cream for her. Now she’s in a happy, long-term relationship. In what world would a friend possibly think it was her duty to interfere with that?
What is the upside here for Carrie? That the guy breaks up with Beth? That Carrie gets promoted to a non-compensated minor leadership position on the Truth Squad? That she be able to write “SCORE ONE FOR JUSTICE” on a piece of lined paper and mean it—really mean it—then quietly fold up that piece of paper and place it in the trash?
Beth, who is an adult with a new set of sex organs but the same old fully functioning brain she’s always had, probably has a reason for not telling her boyfriend about her sex reassignment surgery that is more complex than “Sometimes it’s fun to have a secret!”
It seems to me that such a secret would be fairly complicated to keep—
You know, I’ve never seen a childhood photo of you.
THEY ALL DIED IN A FIRE.
—but presumably Beth has spent a lot more time meditating on the logistics than Carrie has.
And let’s not forget that the guy hasn’t even proposed yet. (Tell Beth to wait till that ring is on her finger before she starts picking out stemware.) Beth could change her mind about telling him. They could break up for unrelated reasons. The guy could reveal to Beth that he was born a woman, and then they'll realize that they were nothing but characters in a freshman fiction writing seminar all along.
Carrie should not take it upon herself to ask her best friend’s boyfriend "Just wondering...Did Beth ever tell you a HUGE SECRET ABOUT HER PAST?" She should not walk into a butcher shop with Beth and the boyfriend and poke Beth in the ribs: "All this hanging meat must make you feel like a kid again HA HA HA.” She should not wait until the wedding officiant asks if there are any objections and then hem, “*cough*penis*cough*.”
She should not be a gabby goblin about any of her friend’s relationships. It’s not her responsibility to tell Dave that Sarah was a REAL slut in college. It’s not her place to tell Alex that Drew was born with a tail.
Try to persuade Carrie that, no matter what the context, outing another person without their consent is never the right move.
Since she feels passionately about Beth’s genitals, she can make her case to Beth that Beth should inform her boyfriend of the surgery. Then she should respect Beth’s decision to reveal or not reveal as she sees fit.
If she still seems bound and determined to clang the bell of truth so loudly it riles chicken coops across the land, let Beth know, privately, that a medical history vigilante is planning to blow up her spot.
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