Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I went on a road trip with some friends, and one of the most annoying parts of the trip was deciding what music to listen to. All four of us have different musical tastes.

It felt like the battle of the bands. One friend would select a station, and after a while another would change it. Nobody said anything. There was a lot of huffing and puffing, and you could cut the tension with a knife. It was obvious that music was the issue, but nobody addressed it.

What could we have done differently? We are close friends and would like to get together again for a trip, but we have to fix this first. -- Mood Music, Chicago

DEAR MOOD MUSIC: This does not have to be a deal breaker.

There's tremendous value in addressing the elephant in the room. Somebody should have said something like, "Hey, I like other kinds of music besides what you're playing."

A way to make everyone feel comfortable is to agree to rotate the music stations at particular intervals. Perhaps whoever is driving gets to choose the station or type of music. This serves the double purpose of inspiring people to take turns driving during a long trip. You could also decide to change the station every hour. Or you could play a random mix of everyone's musical tastes.

I would caution members of your group to avoid being judgmental about others' music choices. Embrace everyone, and be patient when your preference is not being played.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My college friends have been living with me for two months while they try to get on their feet. I'm going nuts having to see them every day and share all my stuff. They have turned out to be slobs at least half the time. I have a small apartment, and they take up too much room. I know they don't mean to be in the way, but my one-bedroom apartment wasn't made for three adults.

I was trying to be nice and offer them a roof over their heads as they get started, but it's too much for me. How can I tell them it's time to go? I'm afraid if they don't leave soon, we won't still be friends. -- Crowded, Bronx, N.Y.

DEAR CROWDED: Sit down with your friends and tell them the truth -- that you were happy to help them for a while but that it's time for them to find their own place. Tell them that although you love them, your home is too small for all three of you. Explain that you want to preserve your friendship and your sanity. Give them a date by which to move, and be as supportive as you can until then.