Sunday, July 29, 2007

Failed Friendship?

Why don't people you choose to tell your most recent unpleasant encounter with humanity, even if it was over the proverbial hangnail, simply refrain from telling you it isn't so bad or from setting in motion a new edition of the Spanish Inquisition concerning the event or -- worst of all! -- from suggesting that the other person might have been right?

We all encounter rudeness or perceived slights. We may be right or we may be wrong. But when we choose to tell someone we know, we usually presume that there is some friendship and that we will receive some expression of support.

Yesterday I went to get a haircut. Toward the end of my cut, someone came in and said he needed a tiny trim on one side. Next thing I know, with nothing more than "excuse me a minute," my barber is cutting the other guy for five minutes!

His new assistant, a woman who is not really very good at this, won't cut my hair unless I move to "her" chair.

Whose the customer here? Who is paying? I got up and left -- not before giving both a piece of my mind and not a red cent.

Enter the friends. One wasn't there. Ring, ring, ring.

A second first said "oh," then tried to calm me down, then asked me how this had happened. Not one word that might suggest that I, the aggrieved person, was in need of comfort. When I said I'd rather not discuss the details and explained how I felt and how inadequate the response, suddenly I was cast in the role of "bad guy" and I had to put up with tears.

The third person tried to explain the barber's actions and said the event had no importance and -- again -- took offense at my suggestion that these were not responses of a friend.

Coincidentally, or perhaps to soothe my aggrieved soul, I went to see My Best Friend (Mon Meilleur Ami), a delightful French film I heartily recommend. Like the protagonist, I do not make friends easily, but unlike him, I think I do understand the demands of friendship -- especially when a friend is in need.

When you feel hurt by others, rightly or wrongly, isn't it the duty of a loyal friend to express solidarity without questions asked?
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