I was to have lunch recently with my friend M., one of the three friends who lost their jobs in the first days of '09. The morning of the day of our appointment, she e-mailed to say she was "not going to be downtown long enough" to fill the morning before lunch, was "not very good company" and "did not want to inflict herself on me".
The header on the e-mail was "Snow day". The weather was cold, with light snow, but hardly an impediment to travel, and no storm was forecast.
This is hardly an isolated incident with her. A glance at my calendar shows that she cancels almost one-third of our dates, usually the day of the event. But the fact is, she is presently devastated by her job loss. The catalog of excuses and lack of consideration are symptoms of her distress. It's probably not the time to expect anyone to behave graciously.
The frequency of her cancellations is another matter. That's something I'll discuss with her when she's feeling better. Some people are casual about canceling social dates, or are unconcerned when others do so. I'm neither. I'm understanding about the occasional illness, double-booking or work crisis, but if it becomes a habit, call someone else.
Yes, Duchesse shows her stern side. Style is not just a matter of the cut of your clothes, it's also about the fabric of your relationships. If we want our friends to "be there" for us, I would like them to make an effort to show up for their dates with me.
Updates on the other two friends:
J. (the salesperson) got a lawyer and received better deal; her initial severance was two months and the new offer is seven; she accepted. J. says she can make that money last a year. She's considering a career change, and has applied at several artisanal bakeries.
C. (the banker) is busy activating her network.