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No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose…

April 6, 2021, 1:30 PM

You probably didn’t realize it, but for the first half of 2020, Elyse and I hosted a now-former friend of ours, her boyfriend, and her infant child in the house.  That was a situation that we would have never touched with a ten-foot pole if we had known how it would ultimately turn out.  What was supposed to have been a two-month stay for one adult and an infant ended up being a six-month stay for two adults and an infant, and ended up with a destroyed friendship, a lot of hurt feelings, and resentment all around.

The story starts out in the middle of 2019, when our friend started a long-distance relationship with a guy that she had gone to high school with.  He was now serving in the army, and stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.  In a very short time, that relationship turned into an engagement.  Elyse and I both agreed that relationship had progressed very rapidly – much faster than either one of us would have ever been comfortable with if it were happening to us.  Then in September, when we were planning an outing together, we learned that our friend was pregnant, and also, that she was no longer seeing the person with whom she had been engaged, who was also the father of her then-unborn child.  As I was told, the fiancé had cheated on her, and so she broke off the engagement.  By the time that we actually got together again, she had gotten a new boyfriend, and he would be joining us on this adventure.  I was fine with this, because I usually got along with this friend’s friends, and this seemed to be no exception, as the guy seemed nice enough.  In December, Elyse and I were invited to our friend’s baby shower.  We went, we brought gifts, and generally had a good time.  The one awkward moment at the whole baby shower was seeing the interaction between the boyfriend and her father.  My friend’s father made a big deal about refusing to shake the boyfriend’s hand, and the boyfriend was clearly not amused by that gesture.  I was a bit uncomfortable just witnessing it.  I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal, as the boyfriend had given me no reason for me to suspect anything in our previous meeting, plus the boyfriend was not the one who got her pregnant and subsequently cheated on her.  So I just chalked it up to a “no one is good enough for my little girl” attitude on her father’s part.

Now, fast forward to the middle of January 2020.  I got a text from my friend, who said this after starting the conversation with a “random question”:

My question is would you ever consider letting me stay in the spare room you have for about 2 months?

I’m planning on moving out soon but once my tax return comes and [boyfriend] gets paid from his job which is once a month.  The issue is that my dad is being way too overbearing and causing problems basically by saying no friends nor my boyfriend can come and help me with the baby, so I need just an in between place because obviously I will need help and he won’t allow that because he’s being selfish.  Basically my parents have been pretty shitty since I’ve been pregnant and I thought of your place because you have a spare room but no pressure, just thought I’d ask.

I told her that I didn’t foresee any issues, but that I would have to talk to Elyse about it, since she lives there, too, and such a thing would obviously affect her.  My friend responded:

I completely understand and of course I’ll be due very soon, so it would just be the baby and me, and [boyfriend] when he comes to help maybe more throughout the night to make things smoother.  I also wouldn’t want it to be a freeloading type thing of course, so we could contribute to groceries and a bill or two if needed.

I’m out of work right now so of course I won’t be made of money but would like to contribute something if Elyse also agrees it’s okay.

So we agreed to two months, i.e. she would be there until around the end of March.  We got the back bedroom ready, and she moved in on January 22.  The baby, a little girl, arrived within the first week, and so she was in the hospital for about three days for that.  I also learned at this time that the baby’s father, with whom my friend was at one time madly in love, was deliberately left off of the birth certificate.  Therefore, from a legal standpoint, he was nobody.  She had cut him out of her daughter’s life from the outset.  I never met the guy, so I can’t comment much on him directly, but that just felt a bit off to me.  Considering the timing of when things happened, I question whether the former fiancé even knows that he has a child with her in the first place.

Immediately after bringing the baby home, she was at the house more or less continuously, since she was still off of both of her jobs for the baby.  The boyfriend would occasionally come over, and everything seemed to go according to plan.  She went back to work relatively quickly, most likely because she needed the money, going back to her night job as a server at a restaurant, while remaining on maternity leave with her day job, in an office, for the full six weeks.

Life during this time was a challenge for me, mainly because I didn’t really want to have additional people living in the house, but agreed to it in order to help a longtime friend make a transition through a rough situation.  In other words, for two months, I would tolerate it, and then, only barely.  Especially since our new housemate had her own way of doing things that didn’t necessarily line up with the way that we did things.  I am very particular about the way that things are done, and so this grated on me, but I just kept reminding myself, it’s only for two months.

When she went back to work at the restaurant, she would take the baby with her, and arrange for someone to care for the baby while she was at work.  The sitter while she was at work was her mother, at the house that she had just moved out of.  And some nights, she and the baby stayed the night after work.  Already, I was thinking that something didn’t line up with that.  Her father was being difficult over a child, but she was still staying over there, with the kid, on a regular basis?  Later, when she returned to her day job, her mother was again the sitter, for the baby as well as for her brothers’ children.  Something again didn’t line up here.  She was living with us in order to escape a bad situation at her parents’ house, and yet, she’s still actively involved with them on a regular basis?  Makes you wonder.

Additionally, when they were here, the boyfriend came over quite a bit.  My friend did something that I didn’t like during this time regarding house access, giving the boyfriend one of the two keys for the house.  My house uses two keys: a standard key for the doorknob, and a proprietary key for the deadbolt that I inherited from the previous owner of the house.  She kept the deadbolt key, and gave the boyfriend the knob key.  I had no problems with the boyfriend, as he was ostensibly there to help take care of the baby.  However, splitting the keys like that led to an undesirable possibility: a lockout.  Elyse and I typically lock the deadbolt when we go out.  We both had a complete set of keys, so no worries there for us, but I was concerned about my friend’s getting locked out accidentally because someone had locked a lock that she didn’t have the key for.  I didn’t want anyone standing outside in the cold waiting, possibly for hours, for someone to come home and let them in.  Ultimately, I issued a second set of keys for the boyfriend’s use, in order to avoid lockouts, so that he could help take care of the kid.

Then in March, just as our time together was supposed to come to an end, everything got turned on its head by the COVID-19 pandemic.  With the banning of indoor dining, she lost her night job at the restaurant, because you don’t need servers if all of the business is to-go.  The boyfriend also lost his job at a veterinary clinic around the same time.  That threw a monkey wrench in their plans, and I remember that no one really gave much of a thought to anyone’s moving out or not moving out at that time.  Things just continued as they were, because clearly, my friend, having lost a major source of income, now couldn’t afford to get her own place.

By this time, the boyfriend’s status had changed from frequent visitor to “housemate”, as he more or less started staying over full time, sleeping in the back bedroom every night (and snoring – loudly).  I didn’t like that, because the boyfriend’s living in the house was never part of the deal.  I agreed to my friend and her baby’s living there temporarily, but not the boyfriend.  His coming over on a routine basis to help with the baby, sure, but not living here full-time.  I also wouldn’t have agreed to the entire arrangement in the first place if it had been presented to me that way, with the boyfriend’s living here as well.  One adult with a newborn in a bad home situation, sure.  Two grown adults in a relationship together?  No, go find your own place to live.  I started putting two and two together, and came to the realization that my friend didn’t tell me the whole story when she asked to move in.  Rather than her parents’ being unreasonable, I was starting to get the impression that her parents were being completely reasonable, as it started to sound more like she wanted her boyfriend to move in, and her parents were, understandably, not so keen on that idea.  So rather than live under their rules in their house, she took her ball and left, and gave me only part of the story when asking, and thinking that she could do whatever she wanted at my house.

Meanwhile, I felt stuck.  I wanted them gone, because the agreed-upon duration had lapsed, but they clearly couldn’t afford to get their own place and leave.  All the while, my dishwasher was being run every single day, they were generating far more trash than Elyse and I ever did, and they generally did not take much care with the place, messing it up faster than we could clean it.  I also saw my utility bills go up, as they caused a much higher usage of water and electricity.  In other words, they were costing me money well beyond the paltry amount that they were giving me, and also costing Elyse and me our sanity.

Additionally, the boyfriend really started to show his true colors.  How much did he actually help with the child?  Not one bit.  My friend was doing all of the work on that.  I get that the child was not his, but the only reason that I allowed him in the house in the first place was because he was supposed to help with the baby.  Without that, he had no reason to be there.  But instead, he tended to go out and booze it up on a relatively frequent basis, and come back loaded.  We have footage of him that the doorbell camera caught on one occasion that shows him so drunk that he couldn’t even get the key in the door, and had to call out for assistance to be let in.  Additionally, Elyse had bought a bottle of a nicer brand of vodka for herself at one point, and while she had a little bit of it, the majority of the contents somehow disappeared.  We suspected that we knew who took it, but we had no proof of it, so we asked our friend about it.  She claimed that the boyfriend was on some sort of medication that makes it where he can’t have any alcohol.  We didn’t believe a word of that, and it also caused us to lose a lot of repect for her, because it was quite clear that she was now lying to cover for him.  Not a good look.  Other adult beverages that Elyse had bought had also gone missing, and it wasn’t hard to figure out who was taking them, but again, we had no proof.

In any case, Elyse and I were both miserable, and we both felt that we were being taken advantage of.  I remarked to Elyse multiple times during this period that I was paying way too much money for the house to be miserable in it.  There were a lot of smaller things that bothered me, and it all added up to a big pain in the butt, especially when they had already overstayed their welcome.  One of those issues was how the front door was locked.  I mentioned earlier about the lock on the front door, and how there were two locks.  The way that Elyse and I locked the door was via the deadbolt.  When we left the house, we would lock the deadbolt, using the key, from outside.  The way that they locked the front door was via the thumb lock on the knob and then pulling the door closed on the way out, leaving the deadbolt unlocked.  I did not like that, because I know that those locks are not particularly secure, and the deadbolt is a high security lock (Mul-T-Lock).  When I asked her to please use the deadbolt, I was told that I was being unreasonable, because whenever she left the house, she would open the door, lock the knob lock, pick up the baby’s carrier, and pulled the door shut on the way out.  I didn’t think that it was unreasonable to use the deadbolt, especially when it was my property that she wasn’t securing properly.  Quite simply, put the baby’s carrier down on the front step, and lock the door properly before departing.

I also really didn’t like the way that they treated Elyse.  They viewed Elyse as an inconvenience to their lifestyle, when, unlike them, she actually lived there on a permanent basis.  As far as I was concerned, Elyse had more right to be in the house than they did, because she actually had established residency there, and that was the address listed on her ID.  I really didn’t take well to their acting like she was an inconvenience or a nuisance.  I take a very dim view of people who fall into that “mean to Elyse” category, because she tends to get a lot of people who are unkind to her for no discernable reason, and I especially wouldn’t want someone in the house who was going to be like that.

What finally put me over the top was when they left one day without saying anything other than that they were going to a picnic in Annapolis, and then didn’t come back for a week.  Their absence had me a bit concerned, making me wonder if they were all right.  A text message inquiring about their wherebouts confirmed that they were safe, but we had no idea when they would be back.  We also began to wonder if they had just ditched us without saying anything, and left us holding the bag.  It was a distinct possibility.  Elyse and I enjoyed having the house to ourselves again, though there was a certain uneasiness about it because we didn’t know when they were coming back, and so they could conceivably walk through the door at any time.  Then when they did come back, she told us that they had been staying at her parents’ house the whole time while her parents were away.  Let’s just say that I was not happy about that.  If she could stay at her parents’ house with the boyfriend and baby for an entire week, then she didn’t need to stay with us anymore, because clearly, she had other options, and I wanted my house back.  Additionally, I was really coming to resent the way that she handled the paternity issue, i.e. leaving the father off of the birth certificate completely.  She may have kept the engagement ring that he gave her, but by leaving the father off of the birth certificate, she gave up 18 years’ worth of child support payments, which could have helped in her ability to afford her own place, and would have had a valuation of far more than whatever that ring was worth.  Elyse and I were miserable in our own house, providing housing for three extra people for very little in return, and she was not doing everything that she could so that she could support herself.  Essentially, she was using me to subsidize her own poor life decisions.

So after discussing it with Elyse and looking up what I needed to do to make it official, I spoke with my friend, and told her that it was time to move out.  A formal written notice soon followed.  There would be a light at the end of the tunnel, and they would be gone soon.

Then things really got petty.  People who have seen my refrigerator know that I keep four steel water bottles in the left front of the refrigerator, so that I can have cold lemon water available at all times.  Other stuff goes to the right.  She put some drink container where I keep my water bottles.  When I noticed it, I moved it to the right side without comment. Then I noticed it was back in the spot that I moved it from, so I moved it back over. Then I got a text:

There’s no reason to move my stuff in the fridge, if you move mine I move yours.  Tired of that.  Everything isn’t about YOU, OTHER PEOPLE LIVE HERE.  Also, next time you text about the bugs, think about how you leave food out.  There’s brownies in the living room and kitchen uncovered.  Worry about your own bad habits before you tell me anything.

Shots fired.  I saw that, and this was my reaction:

What I suspected for a while was just proven to be true.  What we had was a fundamental disconnect about the roles of the various people in the house.  She believed that we were all equals sharing a house, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Rather, I was the top dog in the house, because I was the one who owned the place. I didn’t want to have to put someone in their place, but apparently, I had to.  It was like when President Truman fired General MacArthur, about which he said, “I could do nothing else and still be president of the United States.”

So I had to put everyone in their place:

Regarding this most recent message, I believe that you need to be reminded of a very important point: I own the place.  My house, my kitchen, my refrigerator, and therefore, arrangement of the refrigerator and the manner in which things are maintained in this house are my prerogative.  When it comes to this house, I am the benevolent dictator, and I determine how certain things in this house are run.  And as long as you live under my roof, you live by my rules.  Don’t be petty and rearrange the refrigerator just because.  I know that you are more mature than that.  If you don’t like the way that I run the place, find somewhere else to stay.

Her response also gave me the sense of her true colors, i.e. that she was a bit of a spoiled brat who had not been told “no” enough in her life:

And you just lost a friend because you think you have power.  You’re not my parent, if you want a child to govern go find one and I will find somewhere else to stay.  I have 2 months.

And truthfully, I was fine with losing her as a friend.  This adventure had been a real eye-opener in a number of ways, and I was content with never seeing her again after she moved out.  It had become quite apparent that Elyse and I had been far too accommodating of them in the past five months, and failed to set proper boundaries.  Lesson learned, I suppose.

Elyse chimed in at this point:

I really don’t like it when you’ve yelled at me out of the blue that hurts my feelings

She responded:

It hurts my feelings when y’all walk all over me.

Because you have “power”

Elyse responded:

I asked for help to clean the living room everyone uses and tracks shit in I don’t understand how that’s walking over you

And she responded again:

It has nothing to do with the living room.  I don’t touch other people’s food in the fridge, mine shouldn’t be rearranged.  But any words I’ve said are too hard to process clearly so what I said goes.  I’ve been nice for a long time but I’m not going to be walked on.

Okay, then.  “Power”, I assume, means owning the house and having the right to set rules for use of the space.  It’s the Golden Rule, after all, i.e. he who has the gold makes the rules.  And if anyone walked all over anyone, I would say that they walked all over Elyse and me after we were quite accommodating to them.  After all, I could have just said “no” and avoided all of this.

In any case, not long after this, she posted this on her Facebook, with a mood as “feeling human”:

Privilege is an abuse of power and using that perceived power to your advantage or as an excuse to excute [sic] that so called “power” against another person and/or animal.  If you’re not sure that you’re using privilege, key terms include “Me”, “My”, and “I”.  There are different types of privileges including, but not limited to: power privilege, white privilege, sexist privilege, and orientation privilege.  So I’m here to tell you, if you fit any of the categories you are equally fucked up and wrong.  Just because you may not be racist, sexist, or anti-gay does not mean you are any less shitty of a person when you use your perceived power against another.  Thank you for coming to my TED talk and if this applies to you “fuck you and have a blessed day”.

I was a bit amused to read this, because I knew that she was talking about me.  Not long after she posted this, she and her boyfriend both blocked both Elyse and me.  She did the same to all of our various mutual friends.

Meanwhile, the boyfriend’s responses, which came later, were quite unhelpful:

Wow just seeing this @ben ?  I’m usually quiet but we can also talk man to man, that’s the most I’ve seen you wrote since we last spoke about the fridge, don’t let any females get you out your character.. let the females speak amongst themselves and even when your girl told me to speak to I didn’t cause men will be men least ehat she said ..

It seems you want your Privacy which is fine in the same way but your girl comes to my mind wife asking pointers about you so please don’t beef with my lady thank you .. Psa– she didn’t tell me nothing I’m tagged in this childish post

I have never even been in a group text with people I see often so tell me

Clearly, he didn’t understand that I was putting all communication in writing on purpose.  But I wasn’t about to tell either of them that, because then they might be more guarded in their communications.  I wanted to give them enough rope to verbally hang themselves.  But for sake of completeness, I responded to him as well:

Basically, by August 15, the only people who will be staying at my house are Elyse and me, and I will have two sets of keys back in my possession.

In other words, I’ve given you a hard deadline to be out of my house. He clearly didn’t understand why I was communicating in writing, and responded accordingly:

It’s fine Ben like I said men talk ..women text .. you can have two sets of keys when your wife stands up for herself you will be the only one with keys .. nobody is talking to my lady like that .. so man up and get out your text or your own head

2:11 texting like a female

Your the man in this house and I’m the man on the streets treat yourself don’t beat yourself

I found that last line particularly laughable, because I’d much rather be the man in the house over the man on the streets, because the so-called “man on the streets” is on the streets because he doesn’t have his own house.  In any case, this situation was definitely not going to end pleasantly.

We had one pleasant surprise during this period, though: they left again for another week away.  I didn’t mind this, because Elyse and I could have the house to ourselves again, especially since now, the relationship between us and them had turned quite sour.  They wouldn’t even speak to us now.  So not seeing them while the clock was still ticking was fine by me.  I also took the opportunity while they were away to set some boundaries when it came to use of the kitchen.  Specifically, I rearranged the refrigerator in order to consolidate all of their stuff to a single section of the refrigerator, and sent them a memo explaining as such, including that any items of theirs found outside of their designated area would be returned to that section, or removed from the refrigerator if space in their section was not available.

When they saw that memo upon their return, you want to talk about fireworks going off, this was it.  The boyfriend started banging on my bedroom door early in the morning demanding to see me about it in a very threatening manner – enough to make me fear for my safety.  Meanwhile, she responded to me threatening legal action should I remove anything from the refrigerator.  I simply responded to that with a request:

Show me in your lease agreement where it states that the landlord is not permitted to set rules regarding lodgers’ use of the landlord’s property.

I knew that she couldn’t produce such a document because it didn’t exist.  That should have been the end of it.  But clearly, the idea of its being better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt never crossed her mind.  She also never thought to think twice before speaking, as she sent this:

You’re not a landlord lol, I stay here.  I don’t rent from you.  I help with bills you send me.  You don’t even have a renter’s license.  You have an issue, you need to feel power but you have ZERO power over me.  Stop emailing me, I told you already to stop.

Last I checked, making a room in the house that I own available in exchange for some form of payment, like it or not, does make me a landlord.  She was still trying to cling to a persecution complex here, playing the victim when she had no leg to stand on.  I didn’t even dignify that message with a response, because it didn’t really matter.  And besides, I wasn’t some psycho trying to exert power on someone else.  I just wanted to get through the remaining time that they were in the house with as little stress as possible for me.  In other words, I just wanted to be left alone, and if that meant setting boundaries that might inconvenience someone, then so be it.

What finally put me over the top was when she started stealing from me.  I had noticed that a jar of mayonnaise that I had bought on a recent grocery trip had been used up awfully quickly – more than I could account for.  Turned out that she had been using it.  She then came into Elyse’s room and confronted her about it while I was at work, claiming that we were stealing from her.  I knew better, but Elyse didn’t know anything about any of it, and as such was caught completely off guard by this confrontation.  Ultimately, Elyse told her where another jar was just to make the whole scene end.  Elyse then explained it all to me, with audio of the entire conversation, as she had been recording something unrelated when the confrontation began and had forgotten to stop the recording.

I was incensed by this when I found out about it, and when I got home from work, I found my mayonnaise jar in the cabinets that they had been using.  I took that right back, thank you very much.  I also sent another memo to them that essentially kicked them out, because the one-two punch of the threatening acts on his part and the stealing on her part made the situation untenable, and I felt that I could no longer ensure the safety and security of everyone in the house.

Around this same time, another friend of mine put me in contact with a landlord-tenant attorney, as it was looking like it was going to come to that.  But then, two days after my last memo, she, the boyfriend, and another friend of theirs showed up with a truck and moved their stuff out of the house.  That was such a wonderful thing to see, especially as they carried their mattress out of the door, because it meant that they were gone, and they weren’t coming back.  Once Elyse and I realized what was happening, we sat on the couch in the living room and watched it all happen with delight.  The rest of that evening was spent cleaning up the back bedroom and getting it back in order.  Ultimately, we got it looking like it should again:

Elyse poses for a photo in the back bedroom, after we got it cleaned up and back to normal

They had left most of their food in the house, and I hadn’t gotten keys back yet, so I had to follow up a bit on that, but eventually, she came back to retrieve the food and return my keys.  In the meantime, I changed the bottom lock on the door to ensure that they couldn’t enter the house without one of us present, i.e. to ensure our safety.  Turns out that I was right to do so, because this is what I got back for the bottom lock when she returned and gave me back my keys:

The keys that I got back. Note the difference between the two.

I gave them two keys that looked like the key to the right.  Those were keys from Lowe’s, made when I replaced all of the doorknobs as part of an improvement project in 2019.  The key on the left is an unauthorized copy made at a Minute Key kiosk.  I did not know anything about this until I was given the keys back, and I was given no explanation about this new key.  I can only assume that one of them lost the key that I gave them, and so they went out and made a new copy of the key without saying anything in order to replace the lost key.  The problem, of course, was that there was a key to my front door floating around in the world unaccounted for, for an unknown length of time, and I didn’t know anything about it.  I didn’t know if it was accidentally thrown away or something, or if someone was in possession of the key.  And in the case of the latter, I didn’t know if a potential unauthorized keyholder knew what it went to or not.  So the security of my house was compromised because they didn’t bother to tell me that they had lost a key.  If the deadbolt was also locked, that wouldn’t have been as big of a deal because the deadbolt is a high-security lock (and I got all of those keys back), but they never locked the deadbolt, relying on the thumb lock alone to provide security.  Of course, if they had told me about it when it happened, I would have been quite understanding about it.  Things happen, after all, so it would have just been a matter of changing that lock and distributing new keys.  The whole exercise would have cost me less than $20 to fix, which I could afford.  That they didn’t bother to tell me about it at all just burned me up.

Meanwhile, we also found out what a low-quality key comes out of a Minute Key kiosk. Look at what Elyse did to it:

The unauthorized key bent around the authorized key

In this photo, the blade of the unauthorized Minute Key is wrapped around the end of the authorized Lowe’s key.  Elyse bent that entirely by hand, using no tools.  Couldn’t do that with the higher quality keys that I got from Lowe’s.

All in all, I suppose that there are lessons to be learned all around from this experience.  For one thing, don’t let friends move in with you, even with the noblest of intentions, because it’s a surefire way to destroy the friendship, and it did exactly that.  If I never see any of them again, it will be too soon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up moving right back in with her parents.  The boyfriend’s Facebook listed his location as the town where her parents live, which makes me think that it was probably the case that they went to her parents’ house after leaving my house.  If that was what happened, then she trashed a friendship of eight years for absolutely nothing, just to end up right back at square one.  I also learned that I should have gotten everything in writing from the outset, because that would have better protected me when things started to turn sour.

Additionally, I learned that I need to vet anyone that comes into my house myself.  That boyfriend of hers was pure trash, and the only reason that I let him in was because I trusted her judgment of character.  I would learn that this trust was misplaced, and I learned much later that the “man of the street” had a very long rap sheet.  He was no choirboy, that’s for sure.  Looking on the Maryland court records site, I found all sorts of stuff on him.  That included instances of domestic violence, driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license, and various other things.  While staying with us, he managed to pick up an HOV violation, as well as another revoked-license citation while driving around in her car.  Classy.  I imagine that if I had more thoroughly vetted him, I might have come to a different conclusion about letting him in, because all of the various bad things that he did while with us could have been predicted through the court records.  And since they left, when I was doing research for this entry, I discovered that he managed to get another charge for domestic violence, as well as firearms charges.  I wonder if they’re even still together, considering the recent domestic violence case.  The court record listed it as having been dismissed because the petitioner asked to drop the charges, but I also don’t know if she was the victim.  In any case, even though I never want to see my former friend ever again, I don’t want anything bad to happen to her, either, and if she hasn’t done so already, I hope that she figures out that he’s no good and dumps him.

So there you have it, I suppose.  No good deed goes unpunished.

Categories: Friends, House