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A Do-Gooder's Guide To Sabotage

Keep It Transactional

hey colonizer: keep it transactional. only jerks say 'no' so be nice and stew in resentment instead

Welcome to Sabotage for Do-Goodery

In this discussion series, we examine common ways we self-sabotage progressive movements.

Sabotage for Colonizers

Keep It Transactional

Excerpt from the CIA Field Manual on Simple Sabotage:

“Squeeze lubricating pipes with pincers or dent them with hammers, so that the flow of oil is obstructed.”

Are you fueled by guilt and a desperate need to be liked? Do you have a penchant for subtle-but-mounting drama?

Today’s sabotage strategy might be the right one for you. All you have to do is people-please today and hope there is no tomorrow! Watch in mounting glee as overwhelm and resentment erodes your collaborators’ plans. It’s chaotic, it’s thrilling, it’s a wild ride!

I should warn you that today’s strategy isn’t for just anyone. You’ll need the ability to maintain a vibe of unmitigated optimism paired with willful ignorance. Do you have this skill? Who cares! Expect the best, ignore the risks, and I bet everything will just work itself out.

But that’s not all – you’ll also need impeccable bookkeeping skills to keep track of all the good you do for others in order to hold it over their heads into perpetuity.

So make today the day of YES! Yes, to everything! Tomorrow is for following through, but you’re wild and spontaneous and live in the now!

Step 1: People Please Like There's No Tomorrow

Showing up with kindness is hard and scary, but you don’t have to work that hard. Instead, skim the surface and be so, so, so nice!

There’s no better way to get people to like you than to agree to their every request. Let them know they can rely on you. Getting started is easy. Just say YES!

Can you bake 500 cupcakes for the school llama mascot fundraiser?

Sure why not?

While canvasing for your favorite politician to protect our right to breathe?

Of course!

And can you please please gather 50 signatures to run for school committee to protect us from all those book ban zealots?

I bet you can make it work!

That’s a lot for 8am on a Tuesday, but you are so nice, and we can depend on you!

And if we can’t actually depend on you to complete it all – well that’s a problem for Tomorrow You!

You may drop a few cupcakes here and there and accidentally sabotage an election, but reliability is overrated. You’re so sweet, you’re so nice, you’re a always up for a challenge. It’s cute!

Step 2: Know True Givers Have No Boundaries

You don’t need to check your limits, because YOU DON’T HAVE ANY! Commit to everything and anything without checking your calendar, bank account, or energy levels first.

Responding with “I’ll think about it” is a hedge, and ‘thinking’ means you lack conviction. Real heroes don’t check their calendars before swooping into a burning building to save orphans! Since you’ve already mastered the art of prioritizing everything as urgent, this next step should be a breeze.

Go ahead, agree to chair the PTA, volunteer for a weekly shift at the food pantry, register for that Mommy & Me 5k, and renovate your back yard to rescue and rehabilitate a rescue llama. After all, you’ve got all summer!

With a rolling influx of new responsibilities, you may have less time to rest, recover, or save for retirement. But those things are for old folks, and thanks to climate change / the 2024 elections / the rapture, you’ll never get old.

Rather than a comfortable retirement plan and functioning adrenal system, choose to dive in head-first without thinking. It’s Llama Girl Summer!

Step 3: Be A Master Accountant

Take a note from colonial political structures, and be sure to demand a tax after invading and decimating a vulnerable population.

And by ‘vulnerable population,’ I mean your friends, family, and colleagues.

Since you’re doing everything for everybody, keep a meticulous mental checkbook of the promises you’ve made and the goodwill you are owed.

Sadly – not everyone is as generous as you. There will come a time when you’ve given, and given, and given (or at least promised to give), but don’t receive support of equal value in return. Know what you are owed (or would have been owed, if you had shown up), and embrace this vibe to confuse your collaborators and strange your relationships.

How do you maintain your nice persona, but keep these relationships balanced? Make sure to call in your collaborators debts in a nice, passive-aggressive way.

Instead of sitting down and having an open conversation, wistfully sigh a lot. Make comments like, “Oh, you need help again? Well, I guess it’s my job to…” and “Oh no, you don’t have to thank me.”

When people reciprocate by offering help within their capacity, like a home-cooked meal, say no! You are entitled to compensation in the format that works best for you. And that compensation looks like building a proper shelter to protect your two llamas from the elements. (The first one got lonely).

Never hesitate to work the fact that you are a good person into conversations with strangers. In addition to your role as a llama rehabilitator (so noble!) talk about the contributions you plan to give one day. Incessantly. They need to know.

If you do it just right, you’ll be able to nurture this resentment while everyone scrambles to fix the messes you leave behind. They’ll be too nervous to tell you how much you’re screwing everyone over, because there’s this… weird sense that they owe you something?

If a collaborator attempts to clear the air, shut down these cowardly attempts to forgive their debt by practicing your “Oh…well, it’s fine.” Change the subject, but keep driving in that guilt.

Keep everyone busy trying to win your forgiveness so no one has notices how little you actually do. This is how you create an atmosphere of awkward tension, making open communication and collaboration slow and agonizing. Keep that tension high and you can convince anyone to install and maintain an electric fence to contain your three llamas (another rescue), as a gesture of gratitude for all you do.


Sabotage Strategy Risks & Rewards

  • Develop a Drag Persona: Drag Queens are so hot now. This is your opportunity to capitalize on witty wordplay. Something to do with Drag Queens…being an actual drag… I dunno, you’ll figure out a good name. Embrace the drama as the talk of the town, Beleaguered Betty! (working name, still in development.)

  • Make (Up) Time Out Of Thin Air: Reliability is for ugly librarians with chunky glasses. You’re a middle-aged manic llama dream girl, and you fall down a lot, but in a cute way! You’re not like the other girls, so put a spin on the trope and make time for what’s important. Also make time for what’s not important. And when you can no longer make time, just flake. Hone a level of unreliability that makes the horny men in your life shake their heads and smile at you. Oh you!
    Note: This only works if you weigh under 120 lbs and are moderately attractive even with glasses and llama dung on your boots.

  • Give Your Kids Something To Brag About: Don’t worry about a lack of quality time with your kids. They’ll just be so proud of your resume. Show them how to give by over-giving, and they’ll grow up hyper-independent and pathologically generous, with a lot of interesting stories to share with their therapist.

  • Never Get Bored: The ‘Lean In’ movement got popular for a reason. And it’s not because it was published by a wealthy white woman with lots of industry connections. Every nepo baby’s success story follows a roller coaster of being pulled along a well-worn track and then failing up with lots of safety netting. Volunteer to lead exciting adventures you’re wildly unqualified for, and don’t be afraid to mess up or screw folks over. It works for the children of supermodels and millionaires, so it’ll probably work for you, too, an art therapist with a cousin who manages a Market Basket.

  • No Savings, No Problems: Why save for the future when you can take in another llama with expensive medical needs? If you don’t do it, no one will! Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, don’t stop to budget for the vet bills, food, or the cute collection of Peruvian blankets you’re going to buy. Just keep giving until you feel less guilty about living indoors with access to running water. Or your water gets shut off. Same same.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

If there’s one colossal mistake you simply must avoid, it’s connecting with an accountability group of parents who know what you’re going through.

These meddlesome counter-saboteurs could throw your nihilistic, fragile ego into a tailspin, so keep an eye out for these three mistakes to avoid:

Don't Let Them Share Their Ulterior Motives

Holding space with other parents who are committed to raising kind and courageous humans opens you up to dangerously insightful conversations.

When accountabili-buddies open up about their challenges, motivations, and mistakes, you might start to recognize yourself in these stories.

What if they see through your manic pixie façade and encourage you to budget your resources? Even the thought makes me uncomfortable, and that’s one feeling too many for today. Let’s stop talking about it.

Whatever you do, do NOT join the Summer Luminator Collective. This is a vile crowd of overwhelmed caregivers happy to hold space while you think through your options. They will ruin your flaky savior vibe.

You don’t need folks to help you work through the guilt, obligation, and high-key llama phobia that drives your care work. What you do need is to distract yourself from your feelings by rescuing a fourth llama. I heard there’s one over in Franklin with tuberculosis.

Don't Let Them Drag You Back To Reality

A reliable accountability group will rudely call you in to check your schedule, energy levels, and remind you that 5 llamas is five llamas too many for someone who hates llamas so much. (The fifth caught tuberculosis from the fourth, so you had to rescue both.)

They’ll insist on you taking care of yourself, suggesting you adopt out the two pregnant llamas about to give birth. The gall.

So be sure to skip the Summer Luminator. That way you can continue romping into whatever seems fun at first glance but turns into your worst nightmare. Keep overspending yourself so you have no savings, zero time for reflection, and a goat to keep the llamas company. Delusion is bliss!

Don't Let Them Ruin Your Carefully Cultivated Persona

The absolute worst part about an accountability group? You might develop actual friendships. Which you don’t have time for (you’ve got fifty-six llama toenails and four goat hooves to trim!)

Friendships lure you into a sense of safety where you might let your guard down, open up, and—yuck ew—feel understood and seen. As someone who thrives on performative action and shallow relationships, this could derail your plans into meaning and a proud legacy!

If someone recognizes you as a fallible human worthy of unconditional respect, without having to suffer to be seen, the whole world might just explode.

Stick to your chaotic performance and keep the world dazzled by your surface-level perfection and performative contribution to animal welfare. After all, only uptight jerks say ‘no,’ and we can all tell what a good person you are by how you smell (and since you can’t shower with those two baby llamas sleeping in the tub, you smell foul.)

Luckily, it's easy to avoid accountability!

Continue people-pleasing and throwing a delightful mishmash of incomplete, poorly-executed support at whoever needs your help. Who wants to make a tangible impact or develop deep, lasting friendships anyway?

The good news is that you can’t afford to join the Luminator this summer. I mean, technically you can because of the sliding scale. But taking advantage of a sliding scale would be accepting help, and help makes you weak!

The whole point of the Summer Luminator is identify where you need help and receive enough to keep helping others. If you were well rested, had enough time, money, energy, and knew how to change the world without wading through camelid poops, you’d no longer have an excuse to be adorably flaky.

Even if you wanted to join us, you should push it off until next summer. Spend this next year delightfully oblivious about your capacity, working to the point of resentment, until you’ve ‘earned‘ the right to accept help. Capitalism math!

Meanwhile, enjoy your the llamas, bake sales, and election campaigns you never actually wanted to work on. Getting roped into things is… one way to go about life, I guess.

Remember – life is a zoo, and you’re the star drama llama. Keep spitting chaos everywhere!


Know Your Capacity

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Sabotage for Do-Goodery

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1 comment

Kerry Prasad June 19, 2024 - 3:59 PM

“Middle-aged manic llama dream girl“ – such a good image to keep in mind.

Raising Luminaries

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