Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In the lurch

I'm grousing today.

What is it with certain of my gal pals who stand me up at the last minute?

Entomologist and I were good friends, and I was always there for her: to listen for long hours when she needed a shoulder to cry on at a moment's notice, to drive 50 miles round-trip after work daily for a week every summer to look after her animals and gardens, to help her with her professional papers, to be there at distant funerals (although I had started a new job that week at was trying to make a good impression as a dependable worker) and at family celebrations.

But I was and am a good an loyal friend. She was going through a rough patch. She needed me. Later, she needed my professional editing advice. She apparently did not trust her neighbors to look after her house. She needed moral support. That what friends are for, and I was happy to be there. She visited me in the hospital after my breast surgery, indeed. Unfortunately, Entomologist was bitingly dismissive and downright mean when the tables were turned and I needed a shoulder a few years later.

Whenever we set a date for lunch, and I could almost guarantee that she would cancel five minutes before the appointed time. Sometimes I had turned down another tempting invitation because we already had a commitment. She would  invite to meet for coffee, but never commit to a time until an hour beforehand. She said I had no sympathy for how busy her life is! Busy! Ahem, I am also busy. I invited her to a concert, purchasing advance tickets when she responded in the positive. When I arrived to pick her up for the concert (about a 45-minute drive away), she declined to go. Hello!!! Could you have given me a little notice? Now I'm stuck with this second ticket and shlep alone to yet another concert.

Entomologist once asked me if I would like to go with her for a weekend hiking trip in a lovely state park in Texas Hill Country. What a lovely invitation! I so looked forward to going. So I was so hurt and surprised when, a few weeks later, she eagerly showed me the photos of her weekend-long trip to that park, oblivious to the fact that she had, once again, blown me off. I was polite and cordial, but inside, not happy.

Agriculturist three times stood me up. I know, I know, once it happens, shame on you; twice it happens, shame on me. Agriculturist seemed so apologetic the first time, so I agreed to a second date, and a third.  Agriculturist felt that because I had not called to comfirm as the date drew near, that we did not have a firm date. My take: when two parties agree on a date/time/place, it is a tacit commitment, somewhat of a pact, for lack of a better word. If one party cannot honor their commitment, it is incumbent upon that one to cancel. Ahead of time.

Almost-Professor often asked me to lunch. My office was a floor above hers, so I stopped at her office and off we went. Well, not quite. No doubt professors are busy people, as I was, working 65- to 70-hour weeks at this time. Lunch out was a real treat. Almost-Professor would invariably keep me waiting. A while. A long while. But I did not want to be perceived as impatient or as a bitch, so I waited. Okay, finally we were off. She never, once, not ever once, introduced me when a colleague of hers would greet her in a restaurant or outdoors en route somewhere. In one particularly flagrant case, she engaged in a lengthy "shop" discussion with an Italian exchange graduate student while were were en route somewhere outdoors. (The student,with Continental flair, scooted over on his Vespa to talk with us.) The student periodically smiled at me, and we exchanged nods, but never did Almost-Professor feel it incumbent upon herself to introduce us. Finally, as Almost-Professor wrapped it up and prepared to leave, I extended my hand and introduced myself, to vigorous two-handed shaking by the graduate student.

Almost-Professor, no joke, several times floated the name of a (distasteful) male colleague as a possible romantic interest for me, then immediately dismissed him (before I had a chance to firmly decline), saying, "He would not like you, [Waitress]. You don't have enough letters after your name."

These are all women of a certain age: all 35 or better, some in their 50s, so it's not the irresponsibility of youth.

Yes, I realize when one disregards a commitment with another, it is a reflection on her, not me, but I cannot help being hurt. I forgive (not forget) and give people the benefit of the doubt, but yeah, maybe I'm casting myself as a victim. But why does this happen?


Chile said...

I can't give you an answer. But, I can tell you that I've had similar experiences. The only reason I can come up with is that most people no longer value interpersonal relationships so they devote little time, energy, or thought to them. Unfortunately, that doesn't help the hurt go away.

Waitress from Mensa said...

Chile, Perhaps true; your comment did help by putting things in perspective. I read somewhere that most people on meets in life are not actively out to hurt others, but their actions are perceived as such.