Friday, September 15, 2006

The nature of friendship

OK, this chaps me. Long story short, J's issues with his leg appear to be getting worse - after last night's ER visit where we saw his pediatrician, today the redness was a bit less, but he'd started getting more blisters. I called the doctor and she seemed a bit concerned about the blisters and the fact that the area seemed to be itchy (daycare called and said J was scratching/picking at it) - she said it might be an allergic reaction after all, and that she could see J at 3:00 this afternoon (it being Friday, a doctor visit at 3:00 on a Friday afternoon is much preferable to an ER visit at 3:00 on a Saturday morning). It's my late night at work, and we're already short one for the late shift, so taking off would be really difficult for me. I called K and asked if he could take J. He balked a little at first, and I said I'd see if someone could cover for me and let him know.

Well, I work in a cube farm. A co-worker overheard the conversation and started in telling me how K needed to step up and handle that, I shouldn't have to justify to him why I couldn't do it, he needed to just take the time off without pay (he's running low on annual leave right now) and go take care of it. WTF?! I'm sure that in some way she meant well, but damn, did I ask for that opinion from you? (And she has no clue what K's finances are or what mine are, who the hell does she think she is, saying he should just take the time off without pay?!) I really appreciate her tenacity and advice when it comes to work stuff, and I do consider her a friend as well as a co-worker, but please, no butting into my personal life unless I ask for advice, OK? For one, I WANT to go today - I'd much prefer to be the one to take J to the doctor, because I know K doesn't like going alone and also because I think I'm just better at handling doctor visits. For two, how I handle my personal life is no one's business but mine. For three, she has kids, she should understand how it feels for your child to be sick and to be the one who wants to be there. I made the offhand comment to the effect that "gee, why do guys have a harder time handling stuff like this than women" and she snappily replied that her husband takes their kids to the doctor and does just fine. Well, yippee-de-skip for you, then. Do I give a shit about that when it's MY kid that's having a problem? It's not even that I have concerns about K handling the appointment - he'll be fine, he'll let me know what was said and what's going on, and I know he'll call me if it's anything truly serious. The main point is, it's my personal life and if I can arrange it to where I can get off work and I want to do it, who the hell is my co-worker to start spouting off to me about how K should handle things? Totally none of her business.

And just so you know, K redeemed himself admirably from his intial response. He called back before I even had a chance to ask anyone to cover for me, and he said he'd handle the appointment this afternoon. He also apologized for freaking out at first. So he's very much on the good list right now. :-) I pointed that out to my outspoken co-worker and strangely, she had no comment.

Her jumping into my business unsolicited got me thinking about the nature of friendship. What do you consider a friend's role in your life to be? I have another friend who told me once that she felt it was her role as a friend to poke holes in things, point out downsides or errors in thinking if there were a decision to be made, to help me make the right choice. That didn't sit well with me. I don't want my friends to poke holes in every idea I have. The idea in question was medical transcription, when I was thinking about getting certified to do that and possibly do it from home. She kept pointing out every single downside, every single possible negative thing about it (all of which I had already thought about myself). I wasn't fixing to quit my day job and rely on transcription as my sole support. I was just thinking about getting the certificate and excited about the possibilities *if* I decided to do that. It really brought me down that she couldn't just say, hey, if it works out, that might be great for you - get the certificate and see what happens. Or something along those lines. Instead of sharing just a little of my excitement, she found reasons why I'd be miserable working from home, pointed out everything I'd lose by not having a full-time job with an employer, and told me all the reasons she could think of why it wouldn't work. Is that what a friend does?

My co-worker's comments today prompted this train of thought. I do consider her a friend, but she felt free to offer an opinion on a conversation that was as private as I could make it in the cube farm. I wasn't talking to her. I wasn't complaining about K's response. I wasn't asking for her thoughts. But she certainly felt free to give them to me. I don't like that. If a friend asks me for an opinion, I'll give it to them, and if it's one I know they won't like, I'll try to put it as gently as I can. But unless I see them taking a path that's going to cause them serious harm or is something illegal or immoral, I'm not going to offer unsolicited advice, and if I did offer unsolicited advice, I certainly wouldn't be rude about it. Yeah, sometimes situations call for tough love, but I didn't think this was one of them. It just really struck me the wrong way.

If someone is my friend, I'd hope they'd support me in my harebrained schemes, even if they thought those schemes were destined to flop, and commiserate with me when I'm down. If I'm doing something colossally stupid, I'd want them to point out the flaws in my thinking, but I don't want a friend shooting down every idea I have and pointing out every negative before the idea even gets off the ground. If I want someone to play devil's advocate for me, I'll ask - but don't assume that's what I want and start beating me about the head and shoulders with the cons to my pros.

Am I wrong in my thinking?

I'm just in a mood today. I don't want to be here until 7:00. Today of all days, I must have cookies.

1 comment:

MrsDubois said...

I don't think you're wrong at all. I LOATHE unsolicited advice. If I ASK for it, that's one thing--but I still think that asked-for advice should be served up gently and respectfully.

It is not a friend's job to poke holes in your thought processes. A friend would recognize that you're an adult and are capable of making well rationalized decisions. And you know what? Even if you don't end up liking medical transcription, how would you even know until you tried it?