I was always raised by my family to not only always be on time, but to always be a bit early to accommodate any unforeseen circumstances that may arise. This applies to all aspects of one’s life, professional or personal. I was also raised that when you say you’re going to do something, you follow through and do it. Today’s post may be a bit more on the ranting side than anything useful, but sometimes you just have to pour it out in order to move on and lighten your soul.
I don’t maintain friendships easily. In fact, there aren’t many to whom I am able to give that title. Maybe I’m just stubborn or perhaps my personal code of ethics and beliefs is so deeply ingrained that I don’t suffer ignorance easily, even when it applies to my friends. I’m totally on board with the concept that we can sometimes go days, weeks and occasionally even months without speaking to each other due to life’s obligations. After all, life doesn’t care about one’s plans. What bothers me, is when someone states they’ll do something and doesn’t follow through. THAT’S when it becomes an issue…
I can provide some pretty specific examples. I have a friend that I used to make efforts to spend some time with. Nothing fancy, just the occasional meeting for coffee or beer. During one meet-up, we decided to grab some dinner at a local restaurant. It was only once the menus were in our hands that it was revealed that the friend was actually short of cash and probably shouldn’t order anything to eat. I’m usually pretty game for letting people find their own way and I agree that if one can’t afford to eat out, one shouldn’t.
That being said, I could hardly sit there and order food when the friend I invited out would sit there with a glass of restaurant tap water. Even if we had gotten together for the conversation and company, it would still throw a wrench into the energy of the evening, so I offered to buy dinner. After the usual back and forth, the friend relented and “agreed” to let me buy dinner. Okay, no big deal, right? If I can’t buy a friend a meal every once in a while, then what’s the point? But there was plenty of other things we could have done that would have cost nothing and been just as pleasant, so I felt a bit off at the fact that dinner was agreed to in the first place.
On the second occasion, we decided to go out for coffee. It was agreed that I would pick up the friend so that we could make our way somewhere to relax and have some good conversation. Once I picked the friend up, I was asked to make a “quick stop” along the way… Seems the friend had lent out a vehicle to someone and it was now dead and required a boost. Basically, I was needed to reach the lent vehicle and use my own vehicle to provide a boost. Nice. After attending to that matter and spending some time out in the cold (it was deep winter, at the time) it was late enough and I had grown tired and we called it a night.
I’m a strong believer of giving people the benefit of the doubt, so I agreed to meet on a third occasion. This time, I provided conditions that worked in my favour. I agreed to meet the friend at a local pub that was only five minutes from my home and the friend would have to find their own way there. It was agreed that we would meet at 6 pm. As is my custom, I arrived at about 5:50 and ordered the first round so it would be ready when the friend arrived. 6 o’clock came and went with no appearance from the friend. Okay. 6:30 hits and I had consumed my beer, so I texted the friend asking when I could expect an appearance.
6:45 struck and I still hadn’t received a response. It’s unconscionable to waste cold beer, so I decided to start on the second round I had provided for the friend. Another could easily be ordered upon their arrival. I texted my wife and asked her opinion on how long I should wait. She replied that it was up to me but that I had already waited far longer than necessary, especially since my messages were going unanswered. Since I was on a second round, I would remain and allow some time, since I still needed to make my way home.
Shortly after 7 pm, the friend finally phoned me and provided some reasoning for being well over an hour late, despite it changing nothing of the current situation. I was asked if I was willing to wait a little bit so they could join me. I declined, since I had already consumed two drinks and still had to make my way home. The friend apologized and indicated that we’d make plans to get together on another night. Needless to say, I stopped trying after that. And this is only one of the examples of why I find it difficult to maintain friendships. There are many others.
For example, I have a long-standing friend from back home, who only ever seems to come visit me when he’s working. Seriously. He’ll only stop in if he can sit and catch up while on his company’s time, which seriously sucks. Just recently, I invited him to my home for a beer, to which he agreed. He was supposed to pop in around 6 o’clock after we had all eaten dinner. At 6:30, he sends me a text message to say that he wanted to walk his dog before driving up and would be at my place around 8 o’clock. Seriously??? With a young son and a toddler to get to bed around that time, I didn’t feel right about hanging out in the garage with beer while my wife dealt with both kids. Light knows she does enough of that in the mornings while I’m gone to work. But what’s more is it pissed me off that he only contacted me half an hour AFTER his agreed time to show up.
Why the hell would you agree to a 6 o’clock meet-up, only to change it to two hours later? Did he not know he’d be wanting to walk his dog? Was it a spur of the moment decision? Couldn’t he have either skipped walking the dog for one day and made an exception or have someone else walk the dog in his stead? Who knows, maybe I’m being the oversensitive asshole, here. I declined his later offer, since I wanted to be able to help out with the kids, plus I was kinda pissed. Just for some clarity, these examples feature two different people. So I’m not just picking on one person.
I always show up. In fact, I always show up a bit early. I consider that practical, but it’s my hang up. However, it’s important that if you say you’ll do something or be somewhere, that yo follow through. I think that’s not only an important social convention, it’s simple manners. I’ll take the friend I haven’t spoken to in a month who actually shows up as agreed, over the one who flakes for no good reason. I have one friend that I meet up with on occasion. The beauty of this friend is that if she isn’t available for something, she’s honest and upfront about it. And if we agree to meet, she always shows up. On time. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. That, and a shared twisted sense of humour.
The hand of friendship is one that should be freely given. But to an extent, it also needs to be earned. That’s what defines the difference between a “friend” and an “acquaintance.” And WHAT you do is at least as important as HOW you do it. Keep your promises. Keep to your commitments. And always show up. Believe me when I say that your friends will be eternally grateful. And if you have even one or two friends who fall under that good category, be sure to keep regular contact and treat them like gold. They’re a rare lot. Food for thought… ☯