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Teen Called ‘Petty’ For Refusing To Work At Family Ice Cream Shop If She’s Not Paid Like Brother

Teenager serving ice cream
Irina Marwan/Getty Images

It’s 2023, and we should all be able to agree by now that if someone performs some kind of working task, they should be financially compensated for it.

But for some reason, friends and family often view their loved ones as exempt somehow, side-eyed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor FinishLark looked on while her older brother was given a job at the new family business so he could acquire work experience before going off to college.

When her family tried to come forward and demand she work there, but for free, the Original Poster (OP) immediately declined the unfair offer.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for not helping my family’s restaurant because my brother was being paid and I wasn’t?”

The OP’s parents recently started a family ice cream shop business.

“So my (17 Female) parents recently came into a fair bit of money (inheritance from one of my mom’s elderly relatives, I think) and decided to buy out a local ice cream shop that was going out of business.”

“They love that place because it’s where they met and has tons of sentimental meaning to them.”

“They also hired my 18-year-old brother to work there because they want him to have job experience before going off to college.”

“They didn’t offer to hire me, and I didn’t ask because I already have a fast food job (and they were expecting me to help at the shop for free, rather than paying me like they were my brother).”

When the OP was visiting the shop, they tried to get her to work anyway.

“Anyway, my house is pretty close to the shop, so my friends and I decided to meet up there yesterday for ice cream and to hang out.”

“For reference, we’re a group of four high schoolers. Also, my brother and I always have to pay for our ice cream; our family doesn’t believe in free food, lol (laughing out loud).”

“It was pretty busy, so we got in line.”

“About a minute in, my brother came out of the back and waved me over.”

“He handed me an apron and asked me to help out his coworker in the back because they had to clean the machines as soon as possible, but my brother had to open a second register because of how busy it was.”

“I refused on the grounds that I wasn’t being paid, and he said that I had to help out because it’s the ‘family business’ and because of how swamped the place was and how panicked his coworker was.”

The OP’s brother wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“He even offered to let my friends skip the line if I helped out for ten minutes to give his coworker a hand, and said I owed it to him to help out because I ‘brought such a big group in.'”

“I decided that skipping the line like that would cause a scene in a packed shop, and refused again.”

“Also, knowing him, I didn’t want to risk having to stay longer because he underestimated the task, and I also have no training on the machines and was worried about messing something up.”

“He huffed and waved me off, then went to open the second register.”

“I went back to my friends and the rest of our meet-up went well, but my brother kept giving me dirty looks until we got our cones and left.”

The family confronted the OP about her behavior at the ice cream shop.

“Later that night, my parents confronted me and said that what I did was petty.”

“They told me to work a shift the next day to make up for it but backed off once I reminded them that I have an actual job that I was scheduled to work pretty much all day the next day.”

“They were also technically available when all this happened, but they had both taken the day off from their office jobs to spend it relaxing together. They’re the type of people who appreciate downtime, which seems a little ironic, since they wanted me to take time out of my downtime to help my brother.”

“Anyway, I ended up getting off scot-free; however, my whole family maintains that I’m petty and lazy, and now I’m wondering if they’re right.”

After being asked about her relationship with her brother, the OP added info to the post.

“I didn’t want to put this info in the post since I didn’t want to seem biased, but my brother has a history of abusing my help, as I’ve always been more hard-working than him.”

“It happened all through middle school. I’d do my homework and then ‘help’ him with his (basically do it for him). When he was in his freshman year and I was still in eighth grade and he still came to me for ‘help,’ I finally grew a spine.”

“I’ve been averse to helping him with anything at all since then.”

“So, AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some agreed with the family that the OP should have stepped up and helped out.

“YTA, and sometimes I don’t know what’s wrong with this sub. Do you technically have to help out? No, I guess. But does it make you the AH to refuse to help your brother for 10 MINUTES at your family’s business? YES.”

“Everything doesn’t have to be this transactional and cold, and I just don’t understand this ‘I don’t owe anyone anything’ mentality.” – cheesecakemeal

“Uhm, he asked for 10 minutes of help at YOUR family restaurant only when it was absolutely swamped (your words). I’d say YTA. Irrespective of whether you would have gotten paid or not. You never know, you would have been given some payment (and 10 minutes is one-sixth of the hourly amount, which is not even a lot of money.)”

“Unless your family is s**tty to you often, it’s clearly YTA.”

“If a friend of mine asked me to help out at their restaurant for 10 minutes, I’d gladly do it, even if payment hasn’t been discussed.” – Emotional_Area_1177


“I grew up working for the family business for little or no pay as a teenager because that’s what families do. We help each other. In the end, you would get help from your parents.”

“I had a brother-in-law ask me for money because I asked him to help me move a few things around my house. Always told myself if he ever moved houses, I know what to tell him if he needed help. This is why we have threads about parents kicking kids out at 18 or making kids pay rent. Everything is all about money.”

“Maybe I’m just old and grew up in a different era.” – Conguss

“YTA. Yeah, your parents are paying your brother but it’s your parents’ business. Your parents raised and take care of you putting a roof over your head and pay most of your bills. 10 minutes in an ice cream shop to help isn’t anything; especially when they did so much for you already.”

“Whose to say they wouldn’t have tossed money either if you asked? It’s not like it is some random person’s ice cream shop. When they die, that ice cream shop either gets passed on to you guys or gets sold splitting the money (hopefully) between you kids.”

“The shop is part of your inheritance. 10 minutes of work and free ice cream for your friends? You majorly suck.” – FearTheBomb3r

But others agreed the OP needed to be hired and paid before she did any work there.


“The bottom line is, you don’t have to work if you’re not getting paid. You’re not an employee, you have no obligation to that shop. If your parents wanted someone to help your brother, they could have come in themselves.” – Chaos-in-a-Cookie-Jar


“They HIRED the brother. They didn’t hire you. You shouldn’t be expected to work for free.”

“’10 minutes’ easily gets exploited and the nature of the beast is ‘it’ll be busy at times, deal with it.'”

“The logic was ‘work experience before college,’ and at college, he won’t be able to call family in.” – IcyMess9742

“NTA, obviously, but also, most likely, ILLEGAL!”

“Unless your parents have you actually listed as an employee somewhere on paperwork ‘just in case,’ you legally cannot help out in that store… even for 10 minutes.”

“First off, it’s against the law to require someone to work without pay, and second, if you are not listed as an employee and you get hurt while ‘helping out,’ or cause someone else to be injured, workers comp will not cover the claim, and your parents will be quite a bit of legal trouble.”

“Also, if he wanted you to clean ice cream machines, a lot of those things are classified as dangerous and cannot be broken down, cleaned, or reassembled by anyone under the age of 18.”

“Just some food for thought next time your parents think about wanting to punish you by forcing you to work for free.” – vhroot


“If they need someone else on, they need to hire someone else or hire you. If they can pay your brother, they can pay you.”

“You weren’t hanging around at home bored. You were with friends. To expect you to immediately hop to and pitch in was unreasonable.”

“And you didn’t get off scot-free; your brother did. He had no right to demand that and to continue to hold it against you.”

“Perhaps if he’d asked you for ten minutes of your help and time in the first place in exchange for ice creams for your friends instead of simply handing you an apron, you might have helped out. But even then, that’s an awkward situation for you.” – embopbopbopdoowop

Some also pointed out the OP shouldn’t set a precedent with her brother by helping him.

“Honestly, you were leaning YTA to me until I read your added information about your brother.”

“If it was 10 minutes, as in 10 minutes, then clean break, no obligations or pressure afterwards, that would warrant him being p**sed. But if this person has a history of using people as doormats, then they burned their bridge already.” – DirkDeadeye

“And it would not be the only time he’d ask for help. Helping him now would have set a precedent for future instances where the brother needs help.” – Suzuna18

“OP literally was doing something. It doesn’t matter they were just waiting in line with friends. OP was in the middle of a social gathering, that happened to take place at that ice cream parlor. I have a feeling brother wouldn’t call OP at that moment if they weren’t in sight.”

“NTA, OP, good for you to stand your ground and don’t let your family gaslight you, twist your words nor turn the tables, if it comes to any of that.” – Gwynzireael

“Not merely that it happened to take place at an ice cream shop, but she brought a group of friends to the family business. Instead of a thank you for bringing in business, she got a ‘you need to help because you brought three people and now it is too busy.'”

“Guess who won’t be bringing friends to spend money at the family store anymore…” – Kilane

“I don’t like how he just shoved an apron at you and expected you to jump in and help just because you happened to be there, without even asking.”

“I mean, if he was like, ‘Hey, I hate to ask, but can you possibly jump in for 10 minutes and help clean the machine? We are swamped,’ that would be totally different, but he is a major AH for the expectation. I wonder if you were a dude if he would have been more respectful.”

“Also, it sounds like the place was short staffed and your parents need to handle staffing better. I wonder if they even have any idea how to appropriately run a business?”

“Anyway, NTA. Suggest that your parents hire more staff.” – anita2prozac

There will always be two kinds of people, those who believe the “because family” clause and those who do not, and the subReddit was no exception to that in this situation.

There were some, for legal, moral, and equality reasons, who thought the OP had been perfectly justified to say no. Also, given the history of her brother expecting her help, they agreed this would only set a precedent that would haunt the OP later.

But there were others who believed that family is family, and family should help the family in their times of need, no matter the financial or legal cost.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan has been a part of the George Takei family since 2019 when she wrote some of her favorite early pieces: Sesame Street introducing its first character who lived in foster care and Bruce Willis delivering a not-so-Die-Hard opening pitch at a Phillies game. She's gone on to write nearly 3,000 viral and trending stories for George Takei, Comic Sands, Percolately, and ÜberFacts. With an unstoppable love for the written word, she's also an avid reader, poet, and indie novelist.