Thursday, April 16, 2009

Why don't your Friends help you?

I'm frequently asked why I don't get my friends to help me, and accused of having offended or overdone pleas for help to the point that they no longer want to deal with what's assumed to be my excessive neediness.  In fact, my alleged girlfriends haven't given me even one minute of assistance since I got sick; visiting the sick simply isn't at the top of their list of things to do.  I couldn't even get one to make a five-minute detour to bring me some soup from the Chinese restaurant.  She was "too busy"; that was the first and last request I ever made of her.
To explain the situation, and make it clear that the problem isn't only me and my personality, I'm going to borrow a few words from the recent rant of a hometown friend who also moved to California; he has a completely different personality than I do, so it's not "you're too demanding" or "you're too pushy" that's the problem, because he's a gentle soul who invited people to a party. 
And before you suggest "if he's such a good guy, why don't you ask him for help?", it's because this is a big state, and he's hundreds of miles away.  I would not ask him to drive the equivalent of Atlanta to Philadelphia every weekend, or even twice a month, to deal with my household chores that I cannot do myself. 
They ... swear on their mother, they will attend, that is until the Southern California phenomenon strikes and its name is "Something Better." ... "Something Better Came Along! Dude! Why should I have to lose out, I mean something better came up! If you were really my friend you'd understand!"
The Offender's point of view is of course the modern narcissistic one. ... It's not irresponsible of me as I am being very responsible for myself choosing the best for myself.
... Your work, your party and your friendship has no value unless you are the something better that weekend. Please be aware friends, as what ever happens in Southern California seems to eventually make its way across the globe to invade your hometown.
Unfortunately, even when I was healthy and offering up parties rather than chores, invariably the first question my female friends asked was whether there would be any dateable guys there.  If the male invitees were deemed too old or too poor or too blue-collar, forget it; they could find Something Better to do, somewhere more exclusive where they might meet that single doctor or lawyer who would let them quit their jobs to become pampered wives.  Never mind that my guests offered scintillating conversation and I promised gourmet food – these girls' only interest in life was finding Mr. Right, and just from hearing that Tom's already married, Dick's retired with a solid government pension, and Harry's in construction was enough to tell them that Mr. Right wasn't going to be at my party.  There would be better pickings elsewhere.
I've even noticed that phenomenon among hired cleaners.  I've had a couple of college-age girls come in, and the first question – sometimes before they even ask what chores I need done – is whether I have any college-age sons.  Once they learn that I don't, and my friends don't, and my neighbors don't, and all they're going to get out of cleaning my house is the $15 or $20 an hour they charge, I can forget about them ever remembering to come back a second time.  They've bought into the Cinderella notion that if they clean enough houses, they'll eventually find Prince Charming who will sweep them off their feet, out of the ashes, and live happily ever after.  Cleaning my house won't lead to that fairy tale ending, so I'm just a waste of time.  Oh, they'll promise to come back next Tuesday, but by next week, they're off in search of Something Better, a new client who does have a marriageable son, or better yet, a new client who is a rich single man.
Even when I hired a woman my own age, she was scheming on one of my male friends who popped in occasionally while she was here.  As soon as he took a job out of town, she stopped being diligent about the cleaning: she didn't need to impress me with her wifely skills.  Her reason for being here was made clear the day I talked to her about needing to clean properly – she stormed off, screaming over her shoulder "Brian would rather marry me than you!"  Aha!  She might have adult children, but she still had the same ulterior motive as the younger cleaners: to marry a man above her station.  Once he left town, cleaning my house no longer offered the Something Better she was looking for. 
The problem in getting people to help when you're sick has nothing to do with the person doing the asking and everything to do with the narcissism of the person being asked to help.  "What's in it for me?", and if the answer is only "a good feeling inside for helping the less fortunate", they'll go off in search of Something Better – something that offers cash or romance or more enjoyable entertainment.

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