Make friends, get benefits
April 10, 2012 12:28 AM   Subscribe

What types of friends come with unique benefits?

While I appreciate all of the friendships I've developed over the years, I've noticed that a small number of them have come with unexpected benefits. Some friends have brought remarkable things to my life that I'd never have seen if I hadn't gotten to know them in the first place.

For reasons that are probably pretty selfish, I'm curious about the types of friends that have provided you with some unique benefits over the course of your friendship. I realize that all good friendships are mutually beneficial, and my ultimate goal isn't to take advantage of anyone. Rather, I'd like to seek out and make friends with people who are simply good friends to have. I want to build relationships where both sides have something special to offer.

I'm thinking of friends like the extroverted wingman, the drug connection, or the buddy in a foreign country who's eager to have you visit. The typical "friends with benefits" relationship is another great example. Any ideas are relevant, no matter how strange or specific.
posted by stravinsky to Human Relations (59 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
The friend who worked at a chocolate factory and got free broken chocolate.

All my friends who speak languages other than English as their native language. Great for practising/learning from and bonus extra cultural experiences/understanding.

The friend who is way more outspoken and brave (and anti-social/aggressive/offensive) than me. She has stepped up and told people who have hurt me exactly what they've done and why it's not acceptable, when I would have been too shy. And she is never embarrassed to return meals at restaurants, ask for discounts, or do socially unacceptable things that are really fun.
posted by lollusc at 12:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

This is going to be weird but I have one friend I can be really and truly sexual and vulgar with, and as someone who has always felt a little repressed by parental views on sex and morality, the friendship I have with this fuck buddy is a really healthy and validating outlet for me. Most people would be astonished if they knew the extent to which I am a sexual person. This guy thinks it's amazing and wants to indulge it whenever we chat. I can't wait to find a long term romantic partner that feels the same way.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:47 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

the buddy in a foreign country who's eager to have you visit

Along the lines of this, knowing someone who's a local *anywhere* has been the most reliable way, in my life, of seeing "remarkable things... I'd never have seen if I hadn't gotten to know them in the first place." It took me so long to figure out this was why I had such different levels of happiness/unhappiness, excitement/boredom in different places that on paper were very similar.
posted by cairdeas at 12:49 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Being a natural introvert (but a happy one!) I've always appreciated my more group-focused friends, for two main reasons...

1. They bring me new friends! I hate organising group outings, but enjoy tagging along to theirs, where I make new friends who I then enjoy time with in my own way, mostly over coffee or beer one-on-one.

2. I can have those long, satisfying chats that aren't exhausting, because they do most of the talking! Bonus benefit is that I get labelled a 'good listener', giving them yet more reason to get in touch with me and enabling me to forego the dreaded organisation!

Plus if you listen to your friends, you soon discover that each and every one of them is fascinating, full of complexity and idiosyncrasies.
posted by dumdidumdum at 1:01 AM on April 10, 2012 [5 favorites]

I have many hobbies and I like to give away tangible results from them. I retouch my best friends photos for free. I like to feed my friends with food I made. I also give away extra seedlings and cut hair for free. I give massages and help my non-savvy computer friends.
I got stuff from people who like to crochet, sew, paint, garden. I got free advice from lawyers and psychologists and IT experts. Books and prints from my printing press friends. Tea samples from tea aficionados, free movie tickets from movie critics. Farmers and gardeners will always give you extra produce.
None of this really matters, though.
posted by leigh1 at 2:31 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The friend with a truck is invaluable, as long as they are a good friend and you don't abuse the privilege. Similarly, the friend who can fix computers/do small repairs/do a little plumbing- you should still pay them for their knowledge and time but you can easily work out mutually beneficial terms.

I just had a baby two weeks ago, and my doula was a good friend. I trusted her completely and was not afraid to be half-(or un-) clothed and crying in pain in front of her the way I would have been with a stranger.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:12 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

What a fun question. This posting will be eagerly replied and read by many.

1. The polar opposite friend(s)
personality, interests, backgrounds, etc.-wise.
This a friendship that does not rely on mutuality = raw and pure human connection built over time = almost sibling-like bond.
These are the only friends I get into serious fights with, and also my closest.
We constantly show each other new things and new ways. Bonus: helps you become a more open and tolerant person :p

2. The friend with a very good taste. aka the personal shopper friend
Whenever we browse, just for fun, unaffordably expensive boutiques or luxury department stores, the snobby sales reps immediately notice her and flock over her when she is only wearing mid-price range items.
she always gets compliments from random people on her bag / shoes / etc.
I shop with her, buy whatever she tells me to buy, and get lots of compliments on them. Being able to completely trust someone with your wardrobe is very nice for a style-challenged and lazy person like me.
posted by eisenl at 3:18 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

It's always good to have friends who are very creative, intelligent and self-starting, to inspire you with what is possible. So artists, entrepreneurs, published authors, etc.
posted by KateViolet at 3:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The film critic friend. I know a few people, 2 or 3 at the most, who understand films well, and whose taste I trust implicitly. If they recommend a film, I don't hesitate to go see it. If they say interesting things about a mediocre or bad film, I understand their thinking.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 3:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

DJ friends who will play your requests are fun
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Having a friend who is a lawyer can help you with many things one encounters in life. Here are a few I have done to help friends and neighbors in the past few years for free:

Writing letters on their letterhead when, for example, a landlord won't return a security deposit;
Calling an insurance carrier that is wrongfully denying a claim;
Drafting and negotiating an extensive home remodeling construction contract;
Drafting pleadings and motions and otherwise help a friend navigate small claims court;
Get someone out of jail on New Years Day without bail who had no money for a lawyer (despite not practicing criminal law);
Getting someone out of jail at 3 in the morning on DWI charges;
Drafting many wills and disability documents;
Setting up LLC's and other corporate documents;
Drafting and reviewing contracts large and small for business or personal use purposes;
Countless conversations and advice regarding legal issues, liability exposure, etc.

Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but when I lay it all out like that, I'm an awfully useful friend to have!!
posted by murrey at 4:02 AM on April 10, 2012 [8 favorites]

My husband has a tiller, which the neighbor uses to till his garden every spring. The neighbor can drive anything; when we need five tons of manure loaded and brought here, we call on his years of experience handling large vehicles.

I make up responses to rude comments. My best friend uses them. She called me recently to tell me that she had used one of my lines in a (non-business) meeting. A woman commented, rather loudly, on my friend's hip circumference, using the words "Hips that wide must be good for childbearing, honey!" My friend looked her in the eye and replied, "What a *terribly,* terribly rude thing to say. I am so embarrassed for you that that even came out of your mouth, that I am going to pretend you never said it. Have a great day!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:29 AM on April 10, 2012 [12 favorites]

My friend used to be a buyer for a lingerie company. Whenever she came to visit she always came with a little bag of knickers for me (in exchange for the benefit I provided her - a free place to stay in London). I didn't have to buy any for like a year. Sigh. I miss her job.
posted by like_neon at 4:53 AM on April 10, 2012

The friend with a truck is invaluable, as long as they are a good friend and you don't abuse the privilege.

The corollary to this is if you want to have lots of "friends," especially around the late spring when everyone seems to move, buy a truck. People who can't even remember your name correctly will feel comfortable asking you for favors. (Actually, trucks are crazy useful and you can buy nice ones for under a thousand dollars; the really weird part to me is how many people don't own one.)

I think it's a function of getting older, but increasingly I know more and more people who own or manage businesses, so when I need a service (eg hiring a caterer, calling a plumber, etc) I am almost always dealing directly with the person who runs the place and who is either an acquaintance or a friend. It makes regular transactions a lot easier, and gives a blending to commerce and friendship that's interesting.
posted by Forktine at 4:54 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I friend whose job title is "Head Brewer" at a microbrewery is a good friend to have. For a few years, I had two good friends (both from college) that were making their living brewing beer.

A friend with access to corporate tickets for the local sportsball palace is also nice. I've sat in luxury boxes and right in the first row for professional baseball games without paying a dime for the seats. I've also been the friend with the tickets.
posted by COD at 5:06 AM on April 10, 2012

Friend who belongs to a country club, and can get free rounds of golf.
Friend who is an insurance agent, and give free advice.
Friend who is a contractor, and can help fix things.
Friend who works at theme park, and can get free tickets.
Friend who has a condo near a ski resort or beach, and let's you use it.
posted by Flood at 5:07 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who works for a commercial theatre company and sometimes gets discount or free tickets that she passes along.

A few friends who homebrew beer and make their own cheese. Going to their house for dinner is delightful.

A friend who works at a store that I like and lets me use her discount.
posted by anotheraccount at 5:25 AM on April 10, 2012

My husband is everybody's "friend who knows somebody" - he knows a whole lot of people, and can probably hook you up with someone who can get you a solid deal. Looking for a new car? Husband knows car guys. Throwing a huge party? Husband's friend owns several bars and a party house. And because everybody knows to call Husband when they're looking for stuff, no one feels put out when Husband calls them.

I make him sound like a crazy mobster or something, but no, he's a genuinely nice guy who pays attention and makes connections.

Also, we've made friends with a few other foster parents, and their friendship has come with a level of understanding about the crazy system than we get with anyone else. We don't have to give five minutes of explanation of the legal background for a case before telling a thirty-second anecdote, which is nice.
posted by SeedStitch at 5:52 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding the friend with a pick-up.

The friend with a beach house is a good friend to have.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:53 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who is a natural extrovert and frequently invites me along to events she's organised or is taking part in. After a few years of knowing her, I suddenly realised that my social life had become wider and more interesting, and that I'd picked up a couple of new hobbies along the way.
posted by meronym at 6:17 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

how about Friends Who Read the Books I Wish I Were REading? you can get the book review, have some chewy discussion of the ideas, and cover way more ground that you'll ever get through yourself...

posted by acm at 6:23 AM on April 10, 2012

I have a friend (who happens to also be my sister - heh) who is a dermatologist. I'm always asking her to look at "this little spot" or "tell me what this is?". Plus I get all kinds of products, free.
posted by Falwless at 6:25 AM on April 10, 2012

The friends who are natural instigators of group projects.
posted by ook at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2012

There's a special place in heaven for the friend who asks you if they can come over and hold your baby/entertain your child.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:38 AM on April 10, 2012 [6 favorites]

Friends who will keep inviting me to things even when I'm going through long, difficult periods of heavy work where I can't go out very often.

Friends who will go to movies with me and are interested in sitting in a diner for hours afterward to Talk about the Text at a greater length and depth than most folks would put up with.

Friends with memberships to museums who can help me out with free or discounted admission.

Friends in my field who're more extroverted and better connected.

Friends who speak another language fluently and can help me better navigate associated spaces, either the US or abroad.

(And just in case any of my friends read this, I want to clarify that I see all of these things as pleasing side-benefits, not reasons to be friends with someone in the first place. I AM FRIENDS WITH YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU. )

posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:44 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Friend who will organize solstice/equinox celebrations- I enjoy attending, but not organizing these.
Friend who will be extroverted on behalf of a group of people- she finds us new friends, and also interfaces with strangers for us- asking directions, talking to people at info booths, etc.
I am the friend who lives near the airport and has an extra space in the driveway. You can park at our house and I'll drive you to and from the airport. Not quite as fast as parking there, but much cheaper.
Friend who loves your dogs and will dog-sit for you at the drop of a hat.
posted by Adridne at 6:51 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have these friends with benefits, among others:

*friend/employer who is a parenting author, which gives me access to experts, studies and articles I'd never otherwise read
*accountant friend - wee bits of advice here and there that help me as a freelancer
*pastry chef friend - say no more
*bartender friend - he's happy to take over the bar at parties and serve us cocktails he's been working on
*musician friends - live music at our house, tickets to shows etc.
*printer friend - he charitably prints posters and signs for our school
*editor/writer friend - throws me freelance work
*breadmaking friend - we get to eat the experiments
*flower shop owner friend - brings flowers to most playdates
*gardener friend - imagine having too much rhubarb!
*Ophthalmologist niece - convenient to have burst a blood vessel on the day I'd be having Easter Dinner with her
*electrical engineer FIL - great to have when you're buying a 100 year old moneypit of a house
*jeweller friends - made our bands, source things for me still, and fix things
*beer baron friend - thank goodness he's a nice guy, so we don't have to like him just for his brewery

As a friend, I am:
*working from home, and with a car, so I can do emergency pick-ups, errands or take kids on sick days or emergency playdates for friends' kids
*eager to babysit little ones, since my kid is old enough to make that less stressful and because I'm far enough away from it to miss it and think they're cute again (and I have a police check because I work in a school!)
*the person who's worked for the parenting author, and who will tell you all about raccoon roundworm virus or about recent articles on encopresis or whatever's new in poop and boogie-related news
*the former jeweller who can hook you up with whatever you need as far as jewellery goes
*the person who can give you guidance on your antiques and collectibles, and who can help you acquire/dispose of things.
*the person married to a person who can design your thing (CD, Bus Wrap, Business Card, Logo etc.)
posted by peagood at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

My mother is a pharmacist. As she got older and all of her friends started having various health issues, she became a really useful friend they would call up whenever their doctors prescribed something new - she could tell them what were the better or newer drugs to take, what could cause adverse reactions, advise them about questions to ask their doctors about, and insist on their taking the dosages in the correct way. No one stops using antibiotics mid-course after they've talked to my mom.
posted by sestaaak at 7:00 AM on April 10, 2012

Like Falwless, my sister-friend gives me medical advice or at least will tell me if something is doctor-worthy or not.

My other friends are pet sitters, editors, co-celebrators (this weekend for Easter even though she's not religious), drivers, personal shoppers, massage therapists, bike mechanics, plumbers, and cheap hotels.

Oh and I have a friend from NY state who will argue with anyone for me.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:04 AM on April 10, 2012

When you live in DC, you meet lots of folks who work at really cool places and can give you behind-the-scenes tours. I know regular folks who work at the Library of Congress, the Senate and House, various Smithsonian museums. Even the less-sexy places like the SEC (rooftop cafe) or the Bureau of Labor Statistics (in an old Post Office) or the Interior Department have neato hidden features.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:08 AM on April 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

- A friend who knows stuff about car repair. Even if you don't want to trouble them to try to fix your car, they can tell you what to say when you go to the mechanic so you don't sound like an idiot trying to explain what is wrong with the car.

- A friend who is awesome at socializing. You can bring them with you to potentially awkward events, and know that it won't be awkward since they'll be the life of the party and you're with them!

- A friend who is an oversharer and doesn't mind talking about personal stuff that you can't talk about with everyone.
posted by at 7:48 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Living in a hot place near water, it's nice to have friends with: a boat, a pool, a condo at the beach, or a camp.

In New Orleans, friends who live along the parade route or near the Fairgrounds.

I am the friend who loves to have parties - preparties, late night parties, afternoon keggers, brunches, karaoke parties, whatever, I love to host. I have a good house for it, don't mind things getting dirty, have a well-stocked bar, and can whip up snacks at a moment's notice. So people end up coming over a lot.
posted by CheeseLouise at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2012

As a computer guy, I am often called on for computer questions. Of course, one doesn't necessarily want to be the go-to tech support, but I will perform the occasional troubleshooting. More regularly, I like to think I often have good recommendations on a particular piece of software or hardware to install to perform function X, which are the more non-tech-support type questions I love to answer. Sometimes, I am surprised at the googling skills of people, too, as I can often find an answer to their question pretty quickly even if I didn't know it off the top of my head.

Having a friend who knows something about cars, either by trade or hobby, is pretty useful for helping you with car issues as well as teaching you how to do car repairs or maintenance yourself.

I have a cousin by marriage who is a glazier by trade, but is generally handy in other areas, too, like building fences or installing cabinetry. He is also a good storyteller, which I consider to be a great benefit of those of my friends who have that skill.

I had a friend in college that was a great benefit to have simply because he would rather go on adventures outside than sit in the house and BS. As an example, he introduced me to geocaching, which feels much more productive than watching a movie, even if it's not so much so.

Similarly, having friends that are interested in music is great, too. I've went to shows by myself for bands I really wanted to see, but there are so many shows I likely wouldn't have gone to if it weren't for a friend wanting to see them and inviting me. Those were some of the best concert memories, for me.
posted by mysterpigg at 8:35 AM on April 10, 2012

Media hoarder friend. This friend has an unmanageably large collection of DVDs, VHS tapes or books. She wants to loan them to you, and will indulge you in a discussion about them when you're done, and then recommend and loan new titles based on what you thought about the last one.

Barista friend. My experience as a barista was that most customers preferred to think of me as a coffee-dispensing automaton. Those who expressed some interest in me as a person, tipped well, started conversations, and shared things about their lives with me always got special treatment. It's usually easy for a barista to give you a free drink every once in a while, hook you up with pastries at closing time, let you use the wifi for free if you're not buying something, give you a chance to pick the music, and other such perks if you make an effort to deserve it. Some baristas also have access to free coffee beans or tea (Starbucks makes their employees take home a pound a week, more than most of us were able to consume on our own) which they might share with you.

Older friend. This person offers you the benefit of their wisdom and experience. They probably also have access to resources you may not have at your own stage of life.

Livestock friend. A friend who owns urban chickens might want to give you eggs. Also, the type of friend who owns farm animals is likely to be the type of friend who does home canning. Bonus.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:36 AM on April 10, 2012

My husband has a part-time job in a hotel. We get steep employee discounts for stays/meals with that (large, budget and premium hotels everywhere) chain and his buddies can get a "friends" rate. We all use the hell out of that benefit.

A friend/relative in the trades is massively useful - not in the sense you're going to put him to work every weekend, but a guy you can ask for an opinion as to what to do when your water heater is making a weird noise or you don't know what sort of paint to buy for your basement floor or whatever.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:43 AM on April 10, 2012

When I was younger, I was always jealous of the cool things that my older friends and colleagues were doing. But now that I am older, I totally realize that most of these "cool" things are the result of friends doing favors for each other. And most of the friends with the best "benefits" were friends of mine long before they ever had those benefits.

As for me, I'm the friend who lives in Manhattan, and has an actual guest bedroom and bathroom. I have LOTS of people who come visit, and have even put up friends of friends on occasion (seriously, I have three different groups of friends and family visiting in May).

I have a good friends in London and Paris, they stay with me when they are in NYC, I have places to stay in those cities.

I have a friend who is does marketing and promotion for major performance venues in NYC- I get free tickets to lots of amazing shows, and often get to sit in VIP section, and go to after parties and meet the artist.

I have a friend who works for the airlines, and although he can't get me free airfare or first class upgrades, he has often put holds on seats for me and my partner, increasing the likelihood that we get a three seat row for just the two of us on international flights.

I have a friend who used to live in an apartment on Herald Square, and who hosted Thanksgiving Day breakfasts so that we could watch the Macy's parade out his windows.
posted by kimdog at 8:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm a sex educator and work for a sex toy company, and my friends tend to benefit from that via all the free condoms & lube they could ever need, very cheap and occasionally free toys, and the ability to ask me sex & relationship questions and get a helpful, non-freaked-out response.

One of my partners and several of my friends work for a technology company whose product I use daily, and I can say, "Hey guys, I found a bug" or "You know, it would be great if I could do X here" and often they can actually do something about it or bring it to the attention of the person who can.

The same partner is also a finance geek, and thanks to him I have a thorough understanding of personal finance that has helped me manage my own money better and actually have something resembling a clue what's going on with the US economy.

Another partner is really into wine, and through him I've learned more about wine in the past few years than I had in my entire adult foodie life before.

I've got friends who do lots of cooking and preserving experiments, and it's nice to be their guinea pigs. (This is actually a pretty even trade, because I do lots of complementary cooking and preserving experiments, too, and so they give me lots of jams & jellies & baked goods, and I give them lots of pickles & salsas & savory snacks.)

I appreciate in general having a bunch of really smart friends I can ask detailed, in-depth questions about things like the US energy market, network security, poker, the law (from the side of the cops and the side of the lawyers), professional cooking, and bioengineering.
posted by rhiannonstone at 8:49 AM on April 10, 2012

Oh, also! I have a friend who works at the dump. I know this is a weirdly specific friend, but he's such an awesome friend to have. He's constantly bringing home beautiful useable stuff he finds at the dump, everything from vintage furniture to unopened art supplies to decorative antique bottles and tins to working computers and iPhones, and then he has to find someone in his friends circle to take the stuff when it starts clogging up his house. Maybe a friend who works at a thrift store would be similar. My friend who works at the dump is also a great resource because he's trained in hazardous waste disposal, so I consult him if I need to work with chemicals or if I need to get rid of something and don't know how.
posted by milk white peacock at 8:49 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Having a friend who is a massage therapist or a hair stylist is like winning the lottery. I'm a children's behavior specialist, so I trade childcare for these services.

I have two nurse friends. It's nicer to call a friend instead of my insurance's "ask a nurse," for advice.

Seconding the benefits of having a friend with a truck. I've been on both sides of the truck trade. Remember to feed your truck owning friend to show appreciation after they help you move something.

Really, all my friends bring benefit to my life. Almost everyone has a skill to trade.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:58 AM on April 10, 2012

Almost everyone has a skill to trade.

And at least as useful, they have experience/perspective they will lend you -- even for a moment -- to help you understand whether your problem is a Big Deal or no sweat at all. This initial screening is often just a confidence booster, but it's valuable for the asker *and* for whoever they finally go to for help.

For example, my BiL is great about having my wife call to ask whether our car should be making a given noise, or whether it should go to the mechanic. I am always grateful. By the same token, my mom calls me up to ask a computer question for her non-profit, and she may or may not go to their IT guy depending on the answer. We frequently call a sibling (or two!) to ask about whether a symptom is whatever illness that is currently going around town.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:25 AM on April 10, 2012

The commissioner of oaths or notary friend certifies my pesky red tape documents.

The friend who's lived in this city longer than me knows all the good restaurants and interesting places to spend an evening or an afternoon.

And the friend who dated my girlfriend before me totally understands all of my relationship problems. (I am only sortof joking.)
posted by snorkmaiden at 10:12 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

As mentioned, a lawyer friend is really great for asking questions.

I have a cop friend, who has offered to do drive-bys while we are on vacation. If I ever mention any weirdness in my neighborhood, I have beat cops driving through every day for about a week.

My hairdresser has become my friend, and she will come over and do an exchange of biscuits and gravy for blow-dries and styles.

My friend with a truck just also happens to really love helping out with moving large things. Weird, but awesome.

My contractor has also become my friend, so I can come to him with questions about home repairs, etc.
posted by waitangi at 11:32 AM on April 10, 2012

The friend who is a great negotiator - extremely helpful when you are buying a car or something requiring similar negotiation.

The friend who is involved in local politics.

The friend who likes to bake and loves to share their creations.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2012

If you eat meat, a friend who hunts will often have a freezer full of more high-quality organic game than they know what to do with.
posted by metaman livingblog at 11:46 AM on April 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm a vet. I have vaccinated kitties, signed health certificates, trained people how to wrap cats, expressed anal sacs, and told people to get their animal to a real vet, pronto. (I don't work in puppy-kitty practice anymore.) I also have loads of gross, pus-related stories, which makes me handy when you'd like to exit a dinner party in a hurry.

I second or third the "foreign parts" friend, as well as the well-connected friend.
posted by marmot at 12:04 PM on April 10, 2012

My close friend who really liked getting tattoos. I was able to watch the whole process a couple times, from application to completely healed, which eased any fears I had, as well as being able to get tips on how to best care for my new ink.
posted by DisreputableDog at 12:19 PM on April 10, 2012

The friend with all the great clothes! When we hold clothing swaps, there's one person I always, always make sure to invite because she wears the same size clothes I do, has great taste, and goes shopping a LOT. Her partner is the friend who's great at garage sales, and when we had our baby, she was always bringing us awesome things she found for $10.

The friend with the great house. One of my friends is a kind, gentle, generous soul, who has a projector, game systems, DVDs, a hot tub, a fridge full of beer, and an open door policy. (In exchange we bring beer and food; clean up well; sometimes cat-sit; help maintain the hot tub.)

On a serious note, the friend you've known forEVER. I've been making a lot of new friends and acquaintances recently, and I find it so relaxing to go on a hike with my oldest friend. I don't have to give backstory or explain myself; I can just be.
posted by linettasky at 2:27 PM on April 10, 2012

I have:
- Friend who taught me to sew, who is also
- Friend who was the manager at a cinema - free or cheap movies, yay
- Friends who make things: corsetry, knitting, metalwork, arms and armour, woodwork, etc etc etc
- Tech-savvy, and general how-stuff-works-savvy, friend
- Circus skills friends - I have 2 of these, who taught me aerial hoop and fire performance
- Friends in the chorus of major opera houses - free or cheap tickets, yay
- Sound engineer friends
- Friends who speak foreign languages and will teach me or let me practice
- Friends who like my cats and will catsit (super extra awesome)
- Friends who are Good With Kids and will deal with them so I don't have to

I am:
- Friend who sews
- Friend who translates
- Friend who can hook you up with any number of musicians
- Friend who will petsit and generally be nice to your pets
- Shakespearean text coach friend
- Language coach to singer friends
- Friend with rehearsal space, grand piano, aerial hoop rig
- Friend who generally does not judge
- or offer unsolicited advice when what you've come for is support.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:56 PM on April 10, 2012

- Student friends who give me their passwords to access academic databases.
- Librarian friend, who knows how to find any information on the internet and uses that skill to send me interesting job listings.
- Friends all over the US. I didn't realize how unusual and valuable it is to have geographically scattered friends until I was planning a cross-country trip, and talking to a friend about the process. He was shocked that I could go all the way across the US and have a friend or family member to stay with almost every step of the way--he'd gone to school near home, so all his friends and family were concentrated in one small area of one small state.
- I owe my biggest debt, however, to the friend who once worked at a non-profit similar to the one I worked at straight out of school. I called him one night, crying over the things my boss had called me, and he said, "yup, that's typical for this type of organization, but it's also abusive. gtfo." So glad I had him there for perspective.
posted by ActionPopulated at 9:23 PM on April 10, 2012

My best friend really loves that I'm excited to occasionally borrow her kids for days at a time. (No intention of having my own; I adore them, but I love shipping them back and getting some sleep when all the fun is done.)
posted by ktkt at 3:08 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've recently reconnected with a childhood friend who's just been awesome. He was actually my younger brother's best friend when both were kids, and they sort of looked up to me, the ~5 years older brother who could drive, etc.

This guy's a gem. He's one of few people who, after spending one-on-one time with him for a couple of hours, I feel like I'm a better person. He's worked hard and built a successful business. He is dedicated to his family, ethics and morality, and is interested in the 'spiritual' and philosophical side of life in a non-religious way. He's one of few people I know who strives to treat others well out of a sense of philanthropy - even those who have wronged him. He's motivated by making his own life and the lives of those around him better. Good things come from that, but the good things aren't the motivators, if you catch my drift. He's not perfect, but he seems to be genuinely dedicated to improving his imperfections and helping friends to improve theirs, as well.

Benefits I've gotten from spending time with him include deep, philosophical discussions about life and relationship issues. Additionally, he values mine and my brother's integrity, and has appointed us as his right-hand-men in his business, after having hired our two-man company to do some work for him that was successful beyond everyone's expectations. My relationship with my girlfriend is even better after having spent time with him - he's motivated to have me in his business, but not to the detriment of my health or personal relationships. I guess I'd have to describe him as a wise and genuine philanthropist.

I wish everyone had the kind of good fortune I've had in developing such a friendship.
posted by syzygy at 4:28 AM on April 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Nthing truck owners, beer brewers, people who speak other languages and are willing to help you learn 'em, really good cooks/bakers/preservers/etc., knitters/crafty folks, people with good design sense (for when you need some flyer to be awesome for a show or something like a complicated papercraft invitiation to look good, and it doesn't necessarily have to be that they make the thing for you so much as you struggle on your own, they give it a look and mention a better font or some simple spatial reorganization that makes everything click, or a resource to use, or that weird special glue that works exactly for the medium you're using, etc.), people with green thumbs to help give you leads for why your tomato plant looks sad and the best place to buy materials and equipment, electrical engineers (will help you circuit bend stuff around your house for fun and utility!), and those friends whose families have lived wherever you are for a zillion years and seem to know every single business ever and can tell you the small mom and pop shop you'd never find yourself to go and not get ripped off when you need car repair or keys made or whatever. Folks who work in restaurant kitchens can be awesome; every time that's happened in a group dinner out there were shocking perks (never asked for or expected, of course). Adventurous people who love to drive and travel with friends are super great if you love to travel too but hate long distance driving, by the way. Even if you don't hate driving it's better taking turns and that's hard to do when you can't rustle up enough folks to go somewhere.

Wow, I sound like such a mooch (which reminds, there's also "I don't have cable but oh my god I want to watch Game of Throne/Mad Men/whatever, whoa my friend with every channel in the galaxy wants me to come over and watch with them"...always makes me feel dirty but fulfilled).
posted by ifjuly at 5:18 AM on April 11, 2012

Oh, related to crafty--have a couple friends who work at the Ornamental Metal Museum. Having metalsmith friends is pretty cool--you can get some amazing, unique gifts (jewelry and home decor just to your taste!) that way.

This probably sounds self-absorbed, but having artist/filmmaker/writer/musician friends can sometimes lead to the narcissistic joys of seeing yourself on canvas/in photos/on screen/in print/in song. I was amazed the first time this happened to me--It's me! In comic form! And I look and read awesome (way awesomer than I am IRL)!
posted by ifjuly at 5:21 AM on April 11, 2012

The friend with extra vehicle capacity is invaluable. Twice, in life-and-death situations, my friend with the big van was able to pick up my kids and bring them to her house simply because she had the extra car seats and space to do it. Her ability and willingness to help is a true gift.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:15 AM on April 11, 2012

My sister works at a used bookstore which my aunt owns - my close friends benefit from a "library with a better return policy" (or awesome discount if we plan on keeping them).
posted by lizbunny at 11:08 AM on April 11, 2012

A doctor friend, and of course..a VET friend! Also a baking friend.
posted by ADent at 1:07 PM on April 11, 2012

A mortician who owes you a favor
posted by growabrain at 5:05 PM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am friends with a medical doctor, and I myself am an HIV research scientist who will probably be pursuing a medical education. My friend has a lot of good advice on how to study, what to look for in schools/careers, and how generally to stay sane through all of it. He also shares free medical and health advice when solicited. Likewise, I keep him up-to-date on the latest academic research journal articles and cutting-edge developments he is interested in, but usually too busy to read. Another side benefit is that he is Indian and occasionally cooks me delicious tandoori chicken on the grill. Besides all that, we have a lot of good stories to swap when we're hanging out.

I'm also friends with an electrical engineer, a physicist, and an auto mechanic who owns his own shop. The electrical engineer can do anything from programming and automating my home brewery to wiring my garage. My physicist friend thinks more abstractly than anyone else I know. The benefits of being close friends with a certified auto mechanic should be obvious.

When the five of us are in a room together, I sometimes feel like we could do damn near anything we wanted if we just set our minds to it.
posted by Demogorgon at 9:30 AM on April 12, 2012

My friend is a Disney employee and she signed herself, me, and two other people into Disneyland for my bachelorette party. I gather she does this kind of thing often.

Anyone at a consumer software company has fast-tracked bugs for friends. Often the only way we learn about obscure bugs on weird platforms or with weird configurations is because a friend called us and asked why something wasn't loading.
posted by troublesome at 9:46 PM on April 12, 2012

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