So I’m sure we all know someone who is currently out of work. Maybe they’ve been laid off, maybe they’re a recent grad still looking for a job. Maybe you’re one of those people.
My friends and I have been discussing the current unemployment level quite a bit. In a discussion among employed friends, we got on the subject of our unemployed family and friends. What do we owe those people? Do we owe them anything?
The conversation started when someone mentioned a friend who had agreed to let her sister live rent free for some time. The assumption was that the sister would help out around the house a bit and start paying small amounts of rent when she finally got a job. The sister got a part-time job to help fill her days while still looking for something more permanent… and has yet to pay any rent. Why? Well, her theory is that the homeowner would be paying the same for the room regardless of whether or not she was living in it. Also, I hear her housekeeping skills aren’t that great, but that’s another story.
The homeowner wondered whether or not she should make her sister pony up some cash or threaten to kick her out. Of course, she didn’t want to kick her out, knowing that she would struggle to find another place to live. We decided that was a tough situation all around but that the sister should at least be pitching in somewhere – maybe buying groceries or cooking dinner or something.
But then the conversations started. Someone had a friend who expected her to pick up lunch every time they went out – no matter who invited. Someone else had a roommate who never pitched in for groceries. And the question became – what do we owe these people who are out of work?
On some level, I think I would always let a friend crash on the couch – at least temporarily. Once that friend got some income, however, it would be time to pony up or move along. And if I knew someone was down on their luck, I might invite them over for dinner once a week. Or, if I had a washer and dryer, let them do laundry at my place rather than head to the laundromat.
I guess some of it is situational. While I would be happy to offer these things, I don’t know how I would feel if someone felt I owed it to them. And on that level, maybe I don’t actually owe these people anything. That just feels very selfish to say. Thoughts?