Friendship Test

Monday, January 8, 2007

I have this friend, let’s call him Sam. Sam has this habit of finding opportunities to test his friendships. What follows was my (failed) test. I was probably as much at fault as him. But since I’m writing this I’ll look the hero I always dream I am. It’s interesting how difficult it is to analyze yourself and so easy to analyze other people. I guess that’s how therapists can be so insane and yet have a positive effect on their patients. (That most mental health experts are insane is beyond question.)

Sam asked me on Monday if I would drive him on Friday to get his car from the shop. I spoke about my wonderful vanpool before, and because of it I rarely drive into work. But I told him I’d be happy to drive into work because, you know, that’s what friends do. To provide a bit of background, Sam is a nice, decent guy. (I try to hang out only with nice, decent guys.) He’s great when he’s alone, but tends to go over-the-top when in a large crowd.

Since Sam asked on a Monday, I said, “Let me know whether you still need a ride later.” Part of me didn’t want to do Sam the favor. By driving in on Friday I risked strong traffic which the vanpool helps avoid. Come Thursday I completely forget about our conversation and his request. Some of it may have been subconscious, but most of it was because I tend to do that: forget about things that aren’t in front of me. I caught the vanpool into work on Friday and left my car happily at the Castle.

I stopped by Sam’s office in the morning to let him know I wouldn’t make lunch because of meetings. He gave me this strange look, and said, “I bet you didn’t drive in today.” When I agreed he went ballistic. An argument ensued with various name-callings and gender questioning.

His argument: I asked you to do a favor, and a real friend would have done the favor. My response: you didn’t remind me, and I wasn’t sure you even wanted me to drive. My arguments weren’t well formed because it was early Monday morning and I had yet to hit the bucks of star machine for my yummy caffeine. Since I became a (fully admitted and celebrated) caffeine addict, pre-coffee times are the worst. I’m mentally slower and slightly detached. I have done the risk-benefit analysis often, and yummy caffeine’s wonderful powers far outweigh its few side effects.

We made up this morning when I stuck my head in his office and asked if he still hated me. In the end it would have been better if I had driven. The traffic Friday night was dreadful, and had I driven, I would have left earlier and may have avoided it.