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The Goddess of battle, strife, and destruction explains it all for you
by bon

Despite our best efforts to dissuade you, many of you have still decided to write to us with your problems, complaints and crises of the moment. We don't have a trained therapist on staff, and this isn't "Dear F*ckin' Abbey", but we DO have Bonnie, who has graciously volunteered her time and heartless perspectives in order to minister to (or macerate) the misguided, with "Dear Fuckin' Bon..."

May 1, 2003


I need some heartless bitch advice. I'm taking a biochemistry lab, and my lab partner is sort of trying to take advantage of me. He does not read the labs before coming to class. He shows up late, and while our instructor is talking, asks me if i understand whats going on, interrupting my focus on the lecture. He whispers things like "so, what are we doing to day?". I say to him, "Did you read the lab?" and he replies, "heh, naw, i had like, no time." Sometimes i explain it to him, or i say, "Well read it over, i'm still trying to get a clear picture, myself". I'll come in with the previous week's calculations done, and he'll be like 'oh! let me see that real fast. I'll just copy this down." He uses the excuse that we have to share data, because we're partners.

In that particular instance, i told him "only copy down the stuff we recorded last week. I am not sure if these calculations are right. And it makes it easier to write the lab report if you work the calculations yourself anyway." I suppose that worked for the time being, but i can't see that in the future he will suddenly decide to stay on track and be prepared. And i'd say it wasn't my problem, but it is. The fact that he doesn't know whats going on causes him to screw up his part of the experiment, giving us lowsy data and requiring endless hours of backtracking to see what went wrong so we can still get a decent grade on the final report by explaining the error.

My question is, am i handling this incorrectly? I know he's taking a ridiculously large number of credit hours this semester, and that he probably really doesn't have time to read. And i know it isn't my problem or my duty to help him because he CHOSE to take so many credit hours. And my explanation for why he shouldn't copy my calculations sounded to me like some cover-up...since i think i really wanted to say "Do it yourself! i spent my whole sunday afternoon working those out and you think you can just copy it?" I thought that in our attempt to be adults, we were beyond this sort of "hey smart kid, can i copy your homework" bullshit. I guess i'm naive.

I'm getting kind of tired of dancing around this. Is there some heartless bitch way of handling this so that this guy knows not to ask me to do his thinking for him?

Coincidentally, he happens to be tall, good-looking, outgoing, and funny, and has a tendency to be distracted by the desire to flirt with the girls at the bench next to us.


Hi Frustrated,

The short answer is: respond directly and firmly. Set the boundaries and don't back down. You don't need to be angry or abrasive, though you would be justified in showing a bit of the irritation that you're feeling. Say it whatever way makes you most comfortable, as long as you're clear that you mean it.

After that, meet with your instructor privately, and let him/her know there's a problem. Tell the Proff. that you aren't trying to make trouble but that you have repeatedly refused to let him free-ride off your work, and ask what you can do independently for credit when he screws up his part of the lab. I can't see how s/he would make you continue to partner with someone who is compromising your work on a consistant basis. You'll want to take your notes and calculations and data in with you when you talk to the instructor so that s/he can see your work if desired. If you're lucky and you have a great teacher, s/he may even ask him to show his data and calculations, and independently catch him in not doing it (or copying). I wouldn't count on that, of course, but at the least you should be able to get your own work independently verified, maybe get a different lab partner or even work alone, which would be better than working with someone who isn't pulling their weight or who is screwing up regularly. As difficult and troublesome as this must sound to you, in certainly can't be an unusual thing in any instructors experience.

The other problem is how you feel about yourself and confrontation. I think it's perfectly reasonable to say that you spent all Sunday afternoon on your work and that he needs to do his own work and not leech off yours. Again, you don't need to sound abrasive or angry if you aren't comfortable with it, you can even say it with a smile, but don't back down if he tries to flirt or turn on the charm or pressure you. If he gets cranky or nasty, you will have more of a reason to not want to work with him, so that's not all bad either, though it will be uncomfortable as it sounds as though you don't like confrontation. Another aspect of it is that he's Mr. Handsome Flirty Personality and I suspect that some women do in fact give him a ride on their work. I would ordinarily say that it's your call if you want to sell your work for a flirt and a smile, but in this case he's damaging your work and grade as well as driving behind your semi, and that seems to me to be worth some discomfort no matter how much you hate confrontation.

The good news is that once you learn to confront someone firmly and honestly, it gets easier the more you do it. Male or female, gorgeous or dog-butt, nobody should take your work from you. Put up the fences and stand firm. Good luck.


Copyright© Bonnie & Heartless Bitches International ( 2000
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