Monday, October 10, 2011
I'm Sorry, eh, Perhaps Not
This comes into play when the phone rings. If I am not right by it, the chances go from 100% to 0%, depending upon distance from the phone, that I'm going to get it before it goes to voice mail. If I'm in the basement, I don't even bother considering whether I'll get it. If I'm in the other room, I might start that direction in an attempt to get there. If I'm in the same room, I've got a good shot at picking up the receiver. I pay for voice mail and, after having the program changed from good and reliable to new and improved, I finally got my voice message back. If you leave a message, I'll return your call. I have to apologize to Charly again for not checking my message until about 6 hours after he left it. I got involved in the day's activities which included yelling at the TV as Iowa lost because we all know they can hear you if you yell loud enough.
So yesterday, I was in the bedroom putting away clean clothes when the phone rang. I thought about trying to get it, but I was at the edge of where I can. "They'll leave a message," I told myself. Well, she did and it wasn't exactly what I expected.
A little background. I've known this woman, I'll call her Nora, for about 8 years. I can't remember actually meeting her but I think we met on a job. She was an administrative assistant. I usually have to check in with them and I'm sure we got to talking. I have vague recollections of having lunch together while on this project.
In the intervening 8 years, she's gotten married, divorced, changed jobs 3 times, moved out of her condo into an apartment that's on the 4th floor of a building without an elevator so I couldn't come visit at the moment if I wanted to, gotten a dog, gotten rid of the dog, bought a car and had it repossessed. The phone calls used to be exchanged every other week. Then, as life got more hectic, we'd go months without talking. Such is the case right now. It's been since the end of June that I actually talked to her.
I've wondered, as her life changed in drama-ridden acts, why I kept her as a friend. I think that doubt is why I haven't called her since early March. Maybe she had the same feelings and that's why she didn't call me. After yesterday, I doubt I'll hear from her again.
She almost never leaves a voice mail. She told me as much 8 years ago. She just has no use for voice mail. She did leave a two sentence voice mail yesterday. "It's Nora. Call me." Dutifully, I did, about 2 hours after the call. When she answered, I got a 45 minute discussion of what she was going through, the latest trials and tribulations, who stood her up, who insulated her (She has quite the memory.), how her current employers are the scum of the earth. My job, during that portion of the call, is to say, "Uh huh. Oh. Mmmhumm." I pay less attention to her actual words and more attention to the pauses in the voice stream where a sound is required.
After her verbal tsunami, she asked what I'd been doing that morning and when I mentioned I was working on laundry when she called, launched into a "Well why couldn't you answer the phone?" She's never been to my house. Driving into the suburbs is beneath her. I started to explain that my knees don't allow fast movement and she said, "What a lame excuse. If you don't want to talk to someone, just tell them."
I paused. The situation was ripe. The proverbial door, as it were, had been left wide open. Do I take it? I loathe confrontation and the words forming in my head were possibly going to lead to confrontation. I exhaled and said, slowly, "My knees are not good. I do not move fast anymore. I may be like this the rest of my life and I'm struggling with that thought. All my other friends understand this, know that this causes me pain and depresses me."
She interjects, "Oh for the love of all. I was just kidding. You simply cannot take a joke."
Again I paused. The voice inside my head, the sane one, the one that can see through all the smoke and mirrors, said, "Now. Just do it."
I took a deep breath and I said, "I don't know why someone would find this funny. A fall has lead to an extreme change in my life, a change that has impacted me greatly both physically and emotionally. Anyone who would think to make a joke of this is not a friend of mine." And, believe it or not, I hung up the phone. Me. I hung up on someone who was not trying to sell me windows or trying to get me to give them $800 a month to pay off a debt or telling me why their candidacy would be better for America than the other guy's. I hung up on someone who seemed to be making light of the misery I find myself in (my perceived misery, you realize).
I have not heard from her since. After hanging up the phone, I started making cookies. I was shaking. The whole conversation played like a broken record, over and over in my head. I turned the TV to a football game just to drown out the voices. I remember everything clearly, even today, but what I remember, is the tone in her voice, the clear dismissal of my problem, the clear 'I don't believe you' undercurrent in what she said.
I was talking with my friend, Matt, in the evening. "Sometimes, you have to cut some people loose," he said. I agreed with him. It's kind of funny in this case. I've had to do this before, let someone go, and I've always wondered how I could have made the friendship better. In this case, I wonder why I let it continue for so long. Honestly, I didn't think much about her other than when I'd page through the address book and see her name. This won't change my life appreciably. I should have done it sooner.
So, please be understanding when the phone goes to voice mail. I am probably home, but if I'm not right there, there is no way I'm getting to it. For those who have my cell phone number, the same thing applies. I don't wish any ill will on Nora. She needs friends. I just don't happen to be one of them.
Beverage: Edinburgh's Finest tea