Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fake Empathy and the Man-Woman Friendship

My friend Chas has always been very supportive of all my wacky plans, emotional breakdowns, relationship problems, and parenting dilemmas. I would like to say that I've been as helpful to him as he has been to me. Today I realized that this is simply not true.

My friend began to tell me about a time when he and his wife had only one car. Being the gentleman that he is, he encouraged her to take the car to see her mom while he would cycle to his job. One day he received a call from his wife asking for help. She had punctured a tire and was stranded on the side of the road and could not get the lug nuts off to change it. Like a true knight in shining armor, he dutifully turned around and rode 6 miles back, in the rain, to come to her aid.

I asked, "Did she at least jack the car up before you got there?"

He replied, "She didn't even try to get them off. She didn't even get wheel or jack or spanner (wench) out of the boot. In other words, she did sweet fuck all!"

Here's where I get a bit cloudy on my role as a friend. Deep down inside I know I am supposed to be outraged on his behalf. I should have said something like, "Well that's just lazy and rude! How horrible for you!" but in my head I couldn't help but to think, "So what are you getting at? Did you get the tire changed?"

You see, Mrs. Chas knows the score. Have you ever tried to get lug nuts off a car when they were put on using an pneumatic wrench like they use in auto shops? I've seen grown men struggle with those. By my figures that is $100 she would have cost the family for attempting something which she knew she was unable to accomplish. His leg powered mode of transport was free. On the other hand, she would have ruined her shoes in the mud on the side of the road, and in attempting to remove the lug nuts a nail would have been broken... possibly even an acrylic which would cost more, and in order to make the lug nuts budge she would have stepped on the lug wrench and fallen on her ass. Those pants and possibly the jacket would have had to go to the cleaners.

Shoes- $50
Manicure- $40
Dry Cleaning- $10

This was a great example of why he's a better person than I am. Had I arrived on that scene for one of my kids let's say; I would have stood there and instructed them how to do it in order to prove that they at least tried. As a woman though, I can see myself doing the following manipulative things (because I have.. not gonna lie):

1. Gotten a flat tire and pulled to the side of the road and promptly lifted the hood of the vehicle to signal distress knowing full well you have no engine issue.

Kind Motorist- "What seems to be wrong? What noise is it making?"
Me circa 1991- "It's making a thumping noise and the car is wobbling." Concerned expression.
Motorist- "Well, it looks like you have a flat tire."
Me- "Oh, wow I feel stupid. Do you know where my spare might be?"

2. Stood in front of car with the hood raised and several quarts of oil and a filter balanced on the engine looking confused.

Me- Confused look and chewing my lip.
Passing guy in the apartment complex - "Whatcha doin' Ang?"
Me- "Well I was going to change the oil and I found the oil cap, but I don't know where to put the filter."
Guy- "You have no idea what you're doing, do you?"
Me- Sad face. "No, my ex used to change the oil."
Guy- "Let me get my filter wrench."

3. Bought the parts to fix something knowing you CAN fix it, but still bribe someone else to fix it for you.
blink blink... 

Me- "Alex is Zach going to be around today?
Alex- "Yeah, he said he was going to stop by after work."
Me- Do you suppose I could get him to take the light panel off in the trunk of the car so replace the brake light? I'll cook for him."
Alex- "I can ask." Disgusted glare. 
Me- "Oh! He can take Jacob out with him and teach him how to do it!"

I'm not going to pretend I didn't try to talk his wife's way out of the situation with all sorts of Angie Rationalizations, but in the end I am here to friend up. Here goes.

Chas, that is terrible! I can't believe she would make you cycle all the way back in the rain to do a job she knows full well she should have attempted BEFORE asking you to help. I would have given her a right piece of my mind. Wow. Unbelievable. That's just ridiculous. You're a good man and she's lucky to have ya!" 

Do you ever have a hard time empathizing with your friends?


Leauxra said...

Yeah. No. I am super bad at faking empathy, however, I have also been single most of my adult life (I refuse to believe the two things are related). If I don't want to change a flat, I get roadside assistance. It isn't expensive (costs less than the manicure, drycleaning, etc).

Friend: I can't BELIEVE he didn't call me back.
Me: Are you fighting?
Friend: Well, I told him that if he didn't want to marry me, why should I bother sleeping with him.
Me: Uh, you gave him an ultimatum and threatended NO SEX? I think you should rev up that e-Harmony account, kiddo.
Friend: Why do you have to be such a... a... GUY all the time?

Megan (Best of Fates) said...

That's hilarious - I totally empathize with you, I've done all of those things!

Jennifer Fabulous said...

Haha! I love these scenarios. And I'm totally using one of them should the occassion arise! (Which, hopefully it doesn't, let's be real, lol).

Steve Bailey said...

I had my empathy gland surgically removed.... now I feel only the cold nothingness....... I guess kinda like a politician or a reality show judge.

Azra said...

I have real issues with one or two friends who are in crappy relationships - those friends who know their significant others are assholes yet stay with them anyway - and then want to complain endlessly about them. It's like they love the drama and revel in the toxicity of it because they don't respect or value themselves. I find that I cannot have any empathy for them and sometimes I even question my level of respect for them...

wagthedad said...

Angie, Angie, Angie. First off, let me say that I LOVE you. And second off, I hate this kind of thing. I mean, there is the part of me that thinks it's hilarious and is all yeah, you go girl. Manipulate with that eye blinking thing.

Then there's the other part of me who has been dragged kicking and screaming into learning how to cook, clean toilets, and clean up poopie. A wise comedian I once saw back in the 90s said that shared work between men and women means that he has to do all of the shit he used to do and then half of hers.

So. Here I am being a whiny male. I just think that women should be able to change tires. And drill holes. And drink beer. And all of that.

But on the other hand? If we all become one and the same that would suck, too. Because if my wife being able to change a tire means that she's going to look like Smitty the Guy Who Cleans His Exhaust Pipe With Ferrets then I'll take riding 6 miles in the rain.

Or just calling AAA.

It's good to be back. I missed the reading.

Left Coast Guy said...

Manipulate away. I have a brain and if I choose not to use it, more power to you. Fact is, Angie is right about the lug-nuts. Why should the average woman even try? I have a long lug-nut wrench for one reason: I can attach it to the nut and I can STAND on the other end. Sometimes I can budge it, other times I may as well be dancing on egg shells. That's just wrong.

Manipulate away :-))


Paula said...

I hate to admit it, but I can't to anything to a car and I have used a few of the tactics above to get my car taken care of!

Gorilla Bananas said...

I blame this all on Penelope Pitstop. She set the standard for damsels in distress in a motor vehicle.

Linda Medrano said...

Angie, I have a number of things I "don't" do. It's not because I can't. It's because I don't do that. I don't pump gas. I don't change tires. I don't carry heavy things. I don't think that makes me a bad person. I let men to those things for me. They are good at it. I might be too, but we'll never know.

FOLDOC said...

Personally, I love fixing things so I wouldn't mind being "manipulated" into doing it. Even if Chas didn't enjoy it, at least he got to prove his superiority and masculinity. So you shouldn't feel sorry for him but neither should you dismiss his action as "just doing his job". Everyone likes to be appreciated for what they do.

Tony Van Helsing said...

I am a man but know very little about cars. Saying that most women I know are practical and would be able to change a tyre.

Angie said...

haha I am like that far more than I care to admit! Stay true to you and your friends obviously need a little honesty in their lives or they wouldn't keep you around! Bravo!

I've not had to do 2 of the 3 things for YEARS thank goodness. Now I just pay to have stuff done because I have grown impatient in my old age. LOL

Keep me posted. I want to hear how this goes down. I am always happy to hear when sad faces get things done. Sincere or not! :D

I don't believe it, but I'd still vote for you if you ran. Call it a challenge.

That is a problem for me. Having respect for someone who cannot respect themselves enough to expect proper treatment is difficult!

I LOVE you too! I'm glad you're home! Okay first off... if I sucker someone into doing my dirty work for me I usually make a kick ass dinner for them. Aside from that, I've never been one in a relationship to forego my wifely duties. If I am not doing my own man work I do ALL the girl work. I very much believe in equality of tasks. Plus I cook a mean pesto chicken ravioli with zucchini and peppers!

You saved me there. No one had yet admitted they can't get those damn lug nuts off! LOL I am not nearly as "man work" manipulative as I used to be. I now clean my own house gutters, do all my own yard work, some of my own electrical, etc. I am just in the market for someone who wants to cook while I do those things or at the very least take turns!

Thank you so much for owning up! I hate being alone! :)

She was a woman before her time I tell ya. I miss those shows! I tried to get my kids to watch some of the old cartoons like Captain Caveman, The Flintstones, etc. They weren't having it. I don't know why.

We might actually be soul twins. I am all for your ways!

I completely understand your point there about people wanting to be appreciated for what they've done. I think Chas knows I don't feel sorry for him, but I do applaud his manly manness in going out and getting it done... even if she didn't try. :)

Note to me, don't call Tony for car repairs. As to most women being practical.. I had to learn how to do all of these things in Drivers Education. I just refused to really commit them to memory. I could actually do them if I tried. I just um... didn't feel like it back then and now I can afford the $30 not to?! :)

Elly Lou said...

AAA. I think it's saved my marriage at least 14 times this year. Then again, I tend to lock my keys in the car. While it's running. On road trips.

Angie said...

I have done that!! For me I had the added horror of a baby strapped in a car seat at the same time. SCARY!

Anonymous said...

Before my grandparents allowed me to get my license, my grandfather had me out in his shop learning to 1. change tires, 2. change the oil (not just add it), and some other odds and ends of car maintenance. However, my grandmother had me INSIDE teaching me how to NEVER have to do any of these things.

P.S. My ex-husband of 14 yrs and my current husband are not aware that I am perfectly capable of taking care of my car, please don't tell them.

My Zimbio
Top Stories