FAST skills, Self-respect and other people

I moved into a new home recently, with a pretty nice roommate, who’s just….I don’t know.  Ugh.  Well, you can decide after you read this.

She has an old, old bike sitting underneath the house, just lying on its side in a puddle.  The seat is torn, and a bunch of components have been taken off it to be used on other bikes.  It has no seat post, no fenders, blah blah.  Having said that, it’s a pretty cute ‘beater bike’.  Since I’m a sucker for all things ‘pretty cute’, especially a beaten up old bike that still manages to fall into that category, I have a little crush on the bike.

I asked my roommie about the bike, and she basically said she didn’t know what she was going to do with it.  She bought it for $75 five years ago, and it was in perfect condition when she bought it, but maybe she’d fix it up for guests.  Well, I know her well enough that she doesn’t have time to fix it up.  And she wouldn’t want to spend the money on buying new components.  She suggested we barter for ‘dog walks’.

We’d had an interraction before during which we `bartered’ for an old jacket of hers.  I felt pretty crappy after the exchange, feeling that the dog walks I was doing were worth way more than her jacket…but I thought it was a one-time-thang, so `whatever’.  But I didn’t want to feel like crap again!  Even though I’m not working, I want my time to  be respected, and valued.  I hate dealing with money stuff, but really want to start standing up for myself, so I decided I was just going to be up front with her about needing my time to be worth something.  If I am going to walk her dog, I want to barter what a dog-walker would charge.  That’s about $15 per walk.  And her bike was worth…ummmm…well, really, not much.  $30 max.  MAX.

After 3 days of waiting for the `right time’ to talk, and realizing it would never come, I just asked if I could talk to her.  I told her that I wanted her to value my time – and that to barter for the equivalent of $4 a walk just felt horrible to me.  When we started `negotiations’, she asked for 8 walks for the bike.  That would have been $3-something per walk.  I just kept repeating that I needed it to work out to more than that.  So, she said 5 walks.  What the hell????  Repeat again that dog-walkers make at least $15 per hour, and I want to make close to that.  In fact, I said, I would rather walk the dog as a favour and receive a `thank you’, than be told my time and commitment is worth so little in her eyes.  I said I would do 3 walks for the bike.  She said that I was too expensive for her, that she would rather that I buy the bike and walk the dog as a favor.  I smiled, said that was fine, and went to my room.

I wanted to throw up.  And cry.  Wow, I was insulted and pissed off.

And I was also really, really proud of myself for not giving in and using the FAST skills to stand up for myself, over and over again.  It was really scary!

Even though the `transaction’ didn’t work out the way I had hoped it would, the most important thing to me going into it had been my self-respect.  Granted, she hadn’t shown that she had respect for me – but I had.  And I once again had to accept that I can’t control what I get back from other people.  I obviously didn’t like what I got back.  But there’s nothing I can do about it.

It’s such a relief to be able to (occasionally) just accept that things often aren’t fair.  ‘Life’ doesn’t have a moral code, shit happens, and being self-righteous about things just makes me miserable. A couple of years ago I would have been angry for days, weeks…about this, trying to figure out a way to make things `right’.  But for some reason I’m pretty okay with what happened.

Follow up: A couple of days after the `bike thang’, my roommie left a bag of clothes by the door for donation to Goodwill.  She left a note saying I could go through and take whatever I wanted.  There wasn’t much that I wanted, but there’s a clothing exchange happening this weekend, so I just took most of the clothes.  I gave her a ‘heads up’ about this later, and she all of a sudden wanted the clothes back so that she could somehow exchange them for other clothes.  I laughed so hard (inwardly). Really???  You’re gonna give the clothes to Goodwill, but not to me?  Reealllly?  Lol.

My god, humans are so weird!!!  I used to think I was the weird one, and everyone else was `normal’.  But the more I use the interpersonal skills really well, the more I think `normal’ is a myth.  And even if I am weird, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.  At least in this case, I’d honestly be my kinda weird than my roommate’s so-called `normal’.

But I still have to walk the dog.  As a favor.  Hey, at least she said ‘thank you!’. 😉

Off to get some poop bags!



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