For someone with vast experience with confrontation online, Hell, I even welcome or search out conflict over the ‘net, I was not looking forward to having to go head to head with Terry after his ‘Can we talk when i get in?’ message. Terry and I have never had a cross word, argument or disagreement in nearly 7 years of knowing each other and I didn’t want to start now. Prior to our talk I received a message from another friend of mine. It said simply,
I had every intention of being nice. I vowed to remain calm and in control of my feelings throughout the upcoming experience. I would be ‘adult’ and ‘civil’.
Terry arrived home about 30 minutes after I did. I’d smoked at least 4 cigarettes in this time. I was nervous. I didn’t want to engage in an argument over something which I perceived as minor. I went downstairs, sat an the sofa opposite Terry, lit another cigarette and began:
“I’d like you to listen to what I have to say very carefully. Just listen, don’t interrupt. Let me finish and then say what you wish. It is important that you understand one thing. This is not about Heidi. This could be any other girl, it is not about you, you could be any other housemate. This is purely about the situation at hand and is not a personal issue.
“I feel that I am justified in asking for more money because of the increase in use of facilities since you have started seeing Heidi. She is here at least 50% of the week, under this roof, using this house as her home. I do not think it is wrong of me to expect an increase in financial compensation because of this.”
“Do you really think that her being here is costing you an extra Ã‚Â£50? So she does her hair and has a few baths, this isn’t worth an extra Ã‚Â£50. Ã‚Â£50 is a lot of money.”
“I don’t think it is,” says I, “The point is that we have another person living under this roof now. For at least 50% of each week. That has increased recently. If you include tonight, she will have been here overnight 5 times in 6 days. That is a lot of time, she might as well have moved in.”
“If this is just about her using the bath or doing her hair then she won’t.”
“It isn’t about just that. As I said, she practically moved in, without prior consent or consultation. Asking for extra money is, in my mind, justified.”
This went back and forth a number of times. Rehashing the previous point again and again. I felt it was justified, he felt it was not. In the back of my mind I could feel exasperation building. For fuck’s sake, it’s Ã‚Â£50 taking the rent to Ã‚Â£200 a month. That’s all, 200 measly quid. I explained that it cost me over Ã‚Â£600 to run this house and that they were benefiting from the more than I was. That this was not a lot to ask based on the fact that they had a full house at their disposal, that I didn’t interfere, I didn’t tell Terry what he could and couldn’t do, what he could and couldn’t use. I have bent over backwards to make him feel at home and comfortable here. I want him to feel like this house is his home. Shit, I put him up here when he had nowhere else to go!
He asked me, “Is this just about Heidi staying here? If so, then she won’t. If Heidi was not staying over would you still be putting the rent up?”
Fucker. I wasn’t expecting that. “That’s not the point.”
“Just answer the question.” ARRGGH!! The tables have turned. Fuck.
I knew that if I said the rent would not be increasing that he’d simply say that Heidi was not going to stay over anymore which I knew was fucking bullshit. They don’t have anywhere else to go. It’d cool off for a few weeks and then we’d be back at square one. I had to stand my ground.
“I have been thinking of increasing the rent for few months now, but I wanted to wait until you got back from Holiday before I said anything.”
“What difference does me going on Holiday make?”
Next week, Terry is going for two weeks in Ibiza. He is my friend. I want him to have a good time. Three or four months ago when this holiday was first mentioned I had considered a rent increase as Terry uses the house far more than I do. I felt he wasn’t paying his way, despite our original agreement of Ã‚Â£150 a month.
“The difference,” I replied, “Is that I didn’t want to leave you short when you went away. I felt it was best to wait until you got back from Holiday.”
You see guys, I’m nice like that. I’ll put the needs of others before my own. For the past few months I have been broke. I haven’t had the money to do what I wanted to do because all of my money was going into the running of the house. But rather than going to the most obvious source for an increase in income, I struggled through. I managed with what I had, because I didn’t wish to inflict hardship on my friend. I knew he was saving for his holiday and didn’t want him to have to go away and watch his spending. I want him to go away and have a great time, to do what he wants to do without worrying about where he is going to get the money from.
My kindness had backfired and now I looked like I was being a fucker:
“If you were going to put the rent up anyway then why did you wait until now? Why are you using Heidi as an excuse?”
“I’m not using Heidi as an excuse. I didn’t want to say anything.”
“That you didn’t want to say anything is bad enough. Why didn’t you just ask me before rather than using Heidi as an excuse?”
This is fucking great. Now suddenly I’m the bad guy for trying to help out a friend. For suffering myself so that my friend didn’t suffer, I’m the twat. Just fucking great.
“Look,” I said, “I didn’t use Heidi as an excuse. The recent situation has simply made me more aware of the situation and made me want to take action to resolve it. We have a situation to resolve and I am doing my best to resolve it. The rent is going up. This will be from the end of July, after you return from Holiday. I’m sorry it had to come out this way, but I needed to resolve this and this is the way it will be resolved.”
“And?” He asked.
“‘And’ what? That’s it. That’s the way it is going to be.”
“Are you finished?”
He stood up and walked out of the room. I felt like a fucker. I felt like I had let him down and I felt insulted that he had reacted the way he did. I have done so much for this guy and he thinks I have used Heidi as an excuse to ask for more money. I haven’t seen him since and I don’t know when I next will. Maybe later today, but maybe he’ll be heading straight to Heidi’s after work and I’ll not see him until he returns from Ibiza in three weeks time. If so, then maybe that is a good thing. Maybe he’ll have time to think on it, to understand why I asked for more money and to understand that I am his friend. There is no malice in my actions. I am simply doing what I have to do.
I’m pissed off about it. I’m angry at him and at myself for handling the situation so badly. Sarah always says to me, ‘you don’t do confrontation’. Craig often remarks that I protect him. I hope the whole thing works out when he has had a chance to calm down. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.