Culture Humor

Your Friends Are Like Grocery Stores

There are different types of friends, each one not unlike a place where you can buy food.

Photo: Getty Images

As a self-diagnosed loner (people who hate other people), one contact friend in pristine condition is the preferred. Alas, the present arrangement is not the ideal fruit basket that yours truly would have bought into. Living conditions in a student hall and a general university attitude of let’s get together have exposed moi to a pyramid of acquaintances. Indeed, much like the standard nutrition model, my fondness for them is distributed unequally: the wide base is dedicated to best friends as they receive the bulk of my affection, less warmth is given to the middle section made up of common friends, and acquaintances get the least amount of love; they might as well be strangers to me.

During the two years I spent trying out friendships, I returned some when faulty, discarded many when spoilt, and sifted through the myriad of persuasive offers in stock. Thus, I have now objectively reached a notable summation, deduced with my Sheldon-like logic (which is to say, brilliant) that four chains of social contacts are available to social-customers.

The Vending Machine Friends

The Vending Machine Friends are the familiar faces you see here and there. You may have conversed with them once or twice, but the coins never jingled, so they eventually become the friends to whom you mechanically say “hello” and only hello. Going up to these people is a rarity. But when you chance to be in a dispensing mood, you insert yourself into an exchange, only to find that the topics of discussion are as artificial as a conversation in a reality TV series. I’m not a fan of hello friends.

The Seven-Eleven Friends

Seven-Eleven Friends are acquaintances that you see more often than hello friends. Usually you meet them in lectures or tutorials; they may be slurping loudly next to you in the dining hall, etc. The conveniences which these people offer range from bite-size helpings with assignment problems, to endorsements of weather assessments, but that’s as far as it gets. So they are only slightly better value than Vending Machine Friends; that is to say a waste of your time but convenient to have. I actively avoid this group of people.

The Supermarket Friends

The Supermarket Friends are the kind you can rely on for fresh gossip. They are the ones who happen to be baking cookies when the Cookie Monster in you feels like Godzilla; or they are the persons you can count on for your non-essentials (e.g. blu-tack to seal the edges of your curtains from the peaking rays of the morning Sun); find such friends and stick with them. Everyday rewards summarizes the benefits of these loyalties. Be that as it may, some maintenance effort is required from your side; i.e. it’s not always on special.

The Costco Friends

Customarily, two or three Costco Friends rise up (like the cream on milk) from your list of Supermarket Friends. Though in these cases, an initial investment is required before returns seem profitable; i.e. you may have to sit through a few personal conversations and be very bored. But judging by the rosy commendations made by other organics, the perks (to give a relatable size to an abstract concept) would fill the floor-to-ceiling shelves of a warehouse. For example, you can search for them in times of crisis and know that you will be sympathised. Indeed, a Costco Friend comes with the best values attached.

The Special Friend

After years of cannily shopping about for the best buys in town (good deals are hard to come by in this economy, one must allow), I personally have found a topshelf person who perfectly fits my bill. To list this person’s ingredients in full would make for a long and dull label, so to add some pizzazz here is a sample of the product instead. Imagine this. Special and I walk into the computer lab; the time has come to write our Astronomy essays. I head straight for my usual desk, Special heads toward the desk on my right-hand side, as is our customary arrangement. But suddenly, either Opposite Day became official without my knowledge or Special converted to a radical overnight, today, Special decides to sit on my left instead. This change makes me feel imbalanced; I can sense “a disturbance in the Force.”

Dizzy from my mental collapse, I confess this to Special; considerate as always, Special returns the situation to its usual status by changing desks. Now that’s what I call special. You just can’t beat that value.

By Boripat Lebel

Boripat Lebel is a research coordinator at the Unit for Social and Environmental Research at Chiang Mai University. He authored the eBook “A Vomit of Diamonds.” Boripat can also be found on LinkedIn .