One of the reasons you shouldn't be friends with me is I will turn you into my personal assistant.

Look. It's not like the job doesn't pay. It pays exceptionally well.

Not money. No. It doesn't pay money. But what it pays is much more valuable than money.

Take, for instance, yesterday when Matt texted me 17 pictures of a bleeding mole on his back and asked me if I thought it might be "stage 7" cancer.

A normal person would have ignored these texts. Or at least educated him on how many stages there are. And then blocked his number before he sends more close-up shots of his least appealing body parts.

Not me. Matt is on my staff and so he is entitled to his salary.

So I texted him back and fed his fears. Because that's what he wants. Not someone to talk him off the ledge. But someone to ask him when his appointment is with the dermatologist and then tell him that next Monday is probably too late. Then I forwarded all of the pictures to Skylar without any context.

Then today when Matt texted me at 2:42 PM "Oh I'm still alive. Thanks for checking." I fed the cry for help by responding. And checking.

That's what I do as an employer.

Did I just violate HIPAA? Any lawyers in the house? Why can I never find a lawyer when I need one?

(Footnote: I am actually worried about Matt's back. It looks a lot like my skin cancer from last year.)

I provide a similar type of payment to Rebecca, who texted me pictures of a newborn baby last week, hers, and then told me that she "made that" and "pushed it out" and "it was not at all like surgery" and "I wonder if I can eat gluten now."

And I responded and told her it was cute and that I'm impressed that she trained her body to make other humans and then reminded her that her gluten intolerance is a made-up thing that she tells other people for attention.

See. I pay my friends to do things for me by being what they want, and sometimes what they need.

But you still probably shouldn't be my friend. Because I'm very picky. I'm so picky that it can be difficult to work for me.

But sometimes I have just really basic expectations. Like last Friday.

Skylar works from my house when he's in town. And by "works" I mean "turns the heat up to 94 degrees, uses every single mug to make a dozen cups of tea, and tries on my socks."

Duncan loves the arrangement, when he isn't suffering from heatstroke.

Since I sometimes have Airbnb guests show up in the middle of the day, I will usually leave Skylar with instructions to show them in, give them the low-down on what parts of the house are likely to cave in during the upcoming earthquake, and then text me with a 1 to 10 pervert rating.

He rates everyone a 2 and when I ask him whether 1 or 10 is most perverted he says "exactly" so I'm never really sure what he's trying to communicate, which is a statement I can make pretty broadly, actually.

I told him someone was coming on Friday afternoon. It was a Middle-Eastern family of four. Mom, dad, and two little girls.

I have a "no children" policy on my Airbnb listing because one time someone stayed with me and for 48 hours I heard two little girls scream-singing every part of Moana. It was so compelling that I didn't get anything done for two days.

But this family had messaged me, told me they had two "darling" little girls, and that they were only staying for one night. They asked if I would be willing to make an exception for them.

Brianne told me that if I turned down a Middle-Eastern family with two cute little girls she would consider it a hate crime, report me to the CIA, and then refer to me as "the innkeeper" for the rest of my life.

So I made the requested exception.

Skylar let them in. At least I assumed that he did. Because I didn't hear anything from anyone.

I knew Skylar had been having something of a stressful day thanks to the fact that last week my house became "puppy daycare."

Adam started a new job recently and his office is right next to my house. Adam lives on the exact opposite end of the valley from me and so in order to be able to swing by and let Teddy and Renley out in the middle of the day, he asked if he could drop them off to play with Duncan when he drives in for work.

For the entire week I was getting frantic calls from Skylar that made him sound like he had multiple personality disorder. He would rant and rave about how three dogs were eating him and peeing every five minutes and barking over his phone calls, only to immediately abandon talking to me while he dropped to the floor to have a "tickle war" with them.

I heard so much giggling that ten angels got their wings.

I skipped out of the office on Friday afternoon around 5:00 and drove the ten minutes home.

When I walked in, I saw the following things all at once:

1. Three puppies fighting over food spilled all over the floor.

2. Two little girls screaming and jumping on the upstairs couch.

3. A clearly-exhausted mother asleep next to the commotion, with one hand barely holding onto a half-full sippy cup.

4. A stressed-out dad hauling car seats and luggage down into the basement.

5. A screaming teapot next to four or five empty mugs.

6. And Skylar in the kitchen with noise-canceling headphones, working on a laptop, and ignoring everything else.

I tapped him.

Skylar: Oh, hey.

Eli: Why are there children screaming up here?

Usually Airbnb guests stay in their space downstairs.

Skylar: I told them to come up and entertain the puppies.

Eli: Well the puppies are eating food off of the floor, not playing with the children.

Skylar: Well tell the children. They're supposed to be watching them.

Eli: Those kids are toddlers. I don't think we can pin this responsibility on them.

Skylar: Oh but when I'm not paying attention to them I'm proving I'm not "responsible enough" to have my own dog.

Eli: I've never said that to you. No one has ever said that to you.

Skylar: But that is a thing that parents say to their kids.

Eli: But do you understand that it doesn't apply here?


And he had. I could tell because he kept referring to the guests as "that nice Spanish family" even though they all had Iraqi names and were clearly speaking Arabic and not Spanish.

When I told him this, he insisted that he was listening to them and didn't hear a single Arabic word. So I asked him whether he could say a single Arabic word to me to which he responded that "you don't have to know Arabic to know what it sounds like." Then I asked him if he heard them say a single Spanish word and he said that he heard "the sounds of Spanish" and when I asked him what the "sounds of Spanish" are he just said in a really deep voice "la palabra del dia es vodka."

So, yeah. Some of my friends are bad employees. And Skylar might have a drinking problem.

~It Just Gets Stranger