Friday, January 16, 2009

I am sorry but I must cancel lunch today

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.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Nancy (nanflan) said...

I have a friend who also does this--sets up lunch dates and other meetings that she cancels at the last minute. Needless to say, she's used up a lot of goodwill in this manner, and I'm less than eager to set up the latest lunch date that she's wanting to arrange.

Good to hear that your friends are taking steps to move forward.

Duchesse said...

nanflan: I appreciated your comment. Each of us has a store of compassion, patience and goodwill for our friends. And if one takes more over time, the store does get depleted. Friendship is a mutual contribution, otherwise it devolves to dependency, obligation or mutual exploitation. The balance does not have to be perfect at a given time, but over the long haul, real friendships embrace mutuality.

materfamilias said...

Between work and family, sadly, I can't remember the last lunch date with a friend I even had the opportunity to cancel! When I do make arrangements to meet, though, only something serious would derail the date, and I feel the same way you do about a friend being cavalier about my time and plans. I'm more likely to let the relationship drift away, to tell you the truth, than to confront, and again, I think that's a sad result of being too busy. . .

Toby Wollin said...

With my experiences with family members and associates who cancel at the last minute and for fairly specious reasons, I have no patience with this sort of rudeness any more. I see it as a frank manipulation, an open expression of 'I am more important that you are; you can wait on me." Once happens; twice is a habit and I do not count on that person for anything any longer.

Duchesse said...

Toby: Job loss is an intensely dislocating experience, and she is depressed. I will need some time, though, before agreeing to a meeting.

ma: I will have more time in '09 to meet friends, as a result of working less... this is mostly good! I find it so restorative.

Imogen Lamport said...

Oh Duchesse - I am so with you. I think that people who constantly cancel on others is just plain rude and does not appreciate that my time is as valuable as theirs, and when I said "yes" to making a time to see them, I might also have had to say "no" to others (and sometimes even opportunities for work).

Everyone cancels occassionally, but I pretty much avoid those who are the chronic cancellers as they just don't appreciate how valuable my time is to me. (Time is, in fact, my currency - it's what I lack the most of - do NOT abuse it).

lagatta à montréal said...

Your friend sounds seriously depressed.

That does not mean that it is up to you to be her sounding board or accept her behaviour; even if you were working in the healthcare field that would not make you her shrink.

I do have f(r)iends, or did, who'd cancel out on me if there was a chance of meeting a manfriend, or a more exotic event. But that is not the impression this story gives me.

I've had that too - you know, when you are told that you are utterly qualified for a position but may not be "dynamic" enough, aka too old...

Duchesse said...

lagatta: Yes, she is depressed, and has battled it before this event. One of my wise teachers once said, "When people need understanding the most is precisely when they are behaving in ways that drive us away."

lagatta à montréal said...

I keep thinking about this. Perhaps, although I hate the talkshow confessional mode, because I was in a state like that, what... 15 years ago? Cancelling out dates because I was crying myself ill and did not want to inflict that on my friends.

I don't really know what you can do, other than tell her that not to make lunch dates if she doesn't feel able to keep them.

Duchesse said...

lagatta: Thank you for returning with this though, it's important and illuminating. Haven't we all had this experience, when we want something (a friend's company and support) but are equally tugged by feelings of despair and self-loathing: "I am unfit company"? When she is on her feet is the right time to address my irritation with the frequent cancellations, not now.

A good friend will tell us if we have exhausted her good will. In this case, she has not. I'm over my pique... and still want to point out to others that sometimes a low mood can come across as very self-indulgent, when it is accommodated at someone's inconvenience.

Duchesse said...

Oops, lagatta: that word was "returning wiht this THOUGHT.

Anjela said...

This would upset me- I think if she finds her tolerance for cityscape sis limited and she has to cancell she could do a really nice lunch for you and her other friends and have you over.
I would find it totally annoying- Job loss or not I think if one makes an appointment then stick to it........