Dear Unlicensed Ethicist: During Mardi Gras, my group rented a quaint little Airbnb, which became a little less quaint once a few “friends” arrived at our door asking to use the facilities. One thing led to another, and they drunkenly ended up sprawled on our couch and floors. The next morning they asked when check-out was, then left without offering to contribute to the rent. Now that we’re back in Durham, is it too late to ask them to fork over some dough?
Alcohol is not an excuse for bad behavior, even though it is often used as such, especially on college campuses. “I was so drunk, I barely remember.” Yeah right, you seriously don’t remember ordering five pounds of boneless spicy barbecue wings and waking up to find 16 missed calls from the Heav Buffs delivery guy. Are you sure you just don’t want to remember?
Brushing off a drunken mistake is often done with a big laugh, thereby glossing over the delinquency of it all. Though not an explicit claim of innocence, the inability to recall suggests a lack of individual responsibility. In other words, “I didn’t do it. My drunk alter-ego did.”
Though drunkenness is a convenient excuse, in the end students should be held responsible for being unable to control their behavior. After all, by drinking that much, your friends put themselves in a position that almost guaranteed loss of control.
Because alcohol makes people overcome their inhibitions, it often reveals what a person is like beneath his or her genial exterior. But not always.
Your friend is not necessarily a bad person. For example, if you were enjoying a sushi roll at the bar of Gyotaku, your friend would never walk over with his own set of chopsticks to indulge. But this is basically what happened in New Orleans when you paid for your Airbnb, only to be crowded by uninvited guests.
You have every right to ask the freeloaders to contribute to the Airbnb rent, but they are not obligated to pay. The appropriate time to ask them would have been before you allowed them to stay. Otherwise, it is like giving someone a ride in your car to Myrtle Beach and then asking them to pay for half the gas a few days later. The timing is awkward at best.
By letting them stay for free, it enables or at least condones such behavior in the future. If nothing else, asking them to contribute while being fully prepared to accept no for an answer, brings their bad manners to their attention.
Or you could skip asking them and just write a letter to the Chronicle...
Lena Yannella is a Trinity sophomore. Her column, the unlicensed ethicist, runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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