A reader writes:
I need some advice regarding a colleague who is becoming very needy and dependent on me, and is making me uncomfortable. She constantly asks me for personal favors, while I have never asked her for anything. Let me list out the things she’s asked of me, and the stuff I have done for her out of kindness.
1. She asks me to go drive to get coffee for her everyday. In return, she says I can buy myself a drink with her money. I am not much of a caffeine drinker and she knows this. She also has her own car. Sometimes her card gets declined, or she knowingly does not give me enough cash, so I have to cover all or some of the bill with my own money.
2. I housesat and watched her two dogs and two cats for 10 days. She discussed paying me beforehand, but never gave me the money when she got back. I had to ask her about it a few days after the fact, which was very uncomfortable. She ended up paying me a surprisingly little amount, considering she lives far away from our work and my apartment, she has four animals (two of whom have special needs), and I had to go there on my lunch breaks and spend the night. She never thanked me. Her house and sheets were not cleaned before I stayed there either. She has asked me to house sit several more times for her, but I have been telling her no.
3. Her car recently broke down and she begged me at 11:30 the night before to drive across town to pick her up for work. Her payment to me was a caffeine drink I did not need.
4. Last week, she asked me to housesit for her all of this week, despite knowing I have a lot going on.
5. Her phone broke, and while she was waiting for a replacement, I loaned her my old phone. She ended up not being able to pick up her package and it got sent back. She has not ordered a replacement, and still has my phone.
I really need help. She is asking me for too much when I already have a really busy life.
I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.