Sunday, February 20, 2011

Suspended Animation

This has been a lifelong affliction: people seem to think that, unless they need or want me again, I have nothing better to do than to wait, in suspended animation, until I am summoned by them. Let me give you three examples.

“You should load Yahoo chat so that, whenever I’m online I can see you and we can chat.” I already have Skype chat (and so does the person that made this comment), as well as gmail chat and MSN chat, and I have not one but two email addresses. Yet, because THIS ONE person wishes me to, I should download yet another chat program? She is the one who also said:

“Why do you wait so long to answer my emails and why don’t you answer my questions?” I replied: “Sometimes, I actually have things to do and I’m not at the computer as soon as your email pops up in my inbox. Sometimes the internet connections are not all that reliable in China and I can’t get on the computer. And, when I answer emails, I make it a point to go through each email, paragraph by paragraph, and respond. What question have I not answered?” She gave me no reply to that. Apparently it is OK for some people to not answer questions, but heavens forbid if I should neglect to!

I did inform her that I had recently posted my 100th blog post, to which she responded that she is so busy she does not have time to read my blog. How is it that she is allowed to be busy, but I’m not?

And think about this: what is she telling me by saying she is too busy to read the chronicling of my thoughts and feelings and life while in China? And then to demand that I download a chat program to suit her needs, and answer her emails right away?

Is it just me, or is there a double standard going on there?

Let’s talk about someone else, shall we?

This person informed me she was coming back from vacation tomorrow. Would I please meet her at the train station? Naturally, I had to ask: “What time does your train come in, and to which station?” Wuhan has three different train stations and there are twenty-four hours in each day, so I felt justified in asking these two questions.

She did not tell me which train station her train is coming in at, but she did say that her train leaves at 9:10 in the morning. Could she just send me a text message when she gets on the train?

Well, that is a wonderful idea, but… how long will you be traveling? How far away are you? Just send me your train number and I will look it up on the train schedule. She would not send me her train number, even though I asked for it twice.

So, as I see it: she is going to let me know when she gets on the train, but then I’ve got to wait and wait and wait until she tells me she is pulling into the station. And still: which train station?

Of course! I have nothing better to do than to wait at train stations for people who seem to believe I have nothing better to do! Is it so hard to meet me halfway? It is OK to divulge the train number; it is not like it is proprietary information. And then, I can plan my day around meeting someone who clearly wishes to see me again, but doesn’t think I have anything else going on.

One more example: “I’ll come by and pick you up at 2PM.” OK, I’m ready to go by 1:30, just in case there is any early arrival in the offing. The appointed time for pick up comes and goes. I dust off my shoes, fix another cup of tea, stare out the window and finally send a text message. The response I get: “Oh, I’m a little tired, so I’m going to take a nap, and I’ll come by at 4:00.”

Well, I have someplace to be at 4:00. I have been waiting for you since before 2:00. Did you not sense your impending tiredness before you made plans to come get me? Do you not think I have anything better to do than to wait on you to decide to not be tired or busy or otherwise engaged?

These are real life scenarios, and they have happened to me in the past 3 weeks. Is it just me that this happens to, or does everybody get a fair dosing of it?

Can you tell I’m really miffed by it?

With the ‘I’m too tired to meet you’ incident, I ended up lugging a large package down a few flights of stairs and onto a bus and across town by myself. That person was supposed to come help me, and there was a time limit in which this had to be done.

The train incident turned out to be a true fiasco! I went to the train station – hoping it was the right one, and she finally told me her train number. The train rolled into the station forty-five minutes late, but after she got off the train she did not send me a text message telling me where she was and she did not answer her phone when I called her. I waited 45 minutes beyond her debarkation time, and then sent her a text message saying I was going home.

The other one? I just don’t know what to do with it. This particular relationship seems very one-sided, and has always been. Till now, it has been tolerable because I have had only minimal contact with this person and never online. I’ve been able to overlook her aberrant behavior in the past, but it is getting worse and I would like for it to stop.

Actually, I would like for all of it to stop. I have friends who are considerate of the fact that I have things to do, and maybe even things I like to do but have no urgency or necessity attached to them. Those friends do not seem to think that I am in limbo until they invoke me again. With those friends I am happy to send them a short email saying “Got a lot going on right now, but I’ll get back to you soon.” And, guess what? Those friends are happy to see that I have things going on.

No, it is the friends who seem to think that I live in suspended animation until they summon me that drive me crazy. How does that happen? And now, with the students returning to campus, it is going to crawl under my skin and drive me just this side of crazy. It is a phenomenon particular to me? How do I make it stop?

Can you tell I’m aggravated?

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