I am heartbroken! Please help me understand why friends have kept silent, not donated or even acknowledged my GoFundMe plea. I am recovering from breast cancer and cannot afford the medicine I need. Only one man, from the 50 requests I sent, has donated. At first, I made excuses: “It’s the holidays.” Then I hoped folks were sending checks directly. Now, I’ve started to think: If so-and-so gave up her latte once a week, she could donate. It’s been over a month. How could close friends do this to me?
Before answering the social question, let’s grapple with a moral one: When someone declares, “I am heartbroken,” does that become the immediate priority, requiring us to sugarcoat what follows in deference? Or is it better, as Nick Lowe put it musically, to be “Cruel to Be Kind” — speak the truth and damn the heartache, possibly causing more hurt to someone who doesn’t really want advice? There are a million paths here. Try to choose kindly.
I’m sorry that you are hurt, Anonymous. I can imagine the anguish of feeling abandoned by your friends. But when making intimate and possibly life-altering requests of others, do it in person — or at least by phone or direct email. You have essentially put up a digital flyer in the town square, sending your pals a form letter over the internet. (I can see myself ignoring it.)
I can also see how you talked yourself into this approach. It’s awkward to ask friends for cash. Your route was less direct. And there are all those heartwarming stories of tiny children with medical needs awash in GoFundMe loot. But I suggest you start over. Get on the phone. Do not mention your hurt feelings at the internet appeal or, for the love of caffeine, suggest they economize to subsidize you. (It’s their money!) Just ask from the heart. I predict happier results. Good luck!
Locker Room Lessons?
A sign in my gym’s locker room reads: “Please use a lock. Not responsible for lost or stolen items.” Frustrated at searching for free lockers (because people stow their things, but don’t use a lock — thus making lockers look free when they aren’t), I move the contents of unlocked lockers to the ledge above. I am trying to square the owners’ apparent indifference to what happens to their things (by failing to use a lock) with the idea that a locker is occupied. I am frustrated by the time-consuming search for unused lockers. And these people fail to follow instructions: “Please use a lock.”
Please stop talking, Connie. And by all that is holy (in a locker room), I beg you to stop your attempts at logical “squaring.” They make you sound like a monster. The sign’s request for use of locks is merely a precursor to the gym’s denial of liability for theft. It does not empower you to move an unlocked locker’s contents into the open. And the notion that your inconvenience at opening a few lockers before finding one that’s free somehow trumps … Well, we’re back to you sounding like a monster again.
When Sharing Is a Stretch
I am a 24-year-old woman living with two roommates. I am very thin, so much so that children’s clothing fits me. My roommate is borderline overweight — her doctor’s words, not mine! She was deeply distressed and in denial about her high B.M.I. when he told her. My heart went out to her. I think she looks great and have no judgments about her weight. But she constantly asks to borrow my clothes. And factually, we are just not the same size. What should I do?
I applaud your sensitivity to the possibly ugly chain reaction here: You tell your roomie she is stretching out your clothes; she feels bad about her weight, which turns to icy resentment toward you. But we can finesse all that.
Sometime when she has not just asked to borrow your Stella McCartney sweater (size 00), say, in private, “I’m not comfortable lending my clothes to you or Laura (your third roommate). It’s taken me a while to work up the courage to tell you, but I don’t like sharing clothes. I hope you don’t mind.” Of course, this approach also requires that you stop lending to your other roommate, and borrowing will also be off-limits. But we can’t have everything.
It’s a Birthday Party, Not Day Care
For my daughter’s fifth birthday, I am giving a house party: 16 girls from class and one princess (an actress). I gave parents the option to drop off their daughters. One friend eagerly accepted and told me she will also be leaving her 3-year-old. (“She’s not much trouble,” she said.) I don’t believe I can manage an extra child, but I want to protect my friendship with the mother. Help!
It’s easy, Cinderella. Say, “I love you and both your kids. But it’s going to be bedlam here. I just can’t manage your younger daughter. I’m sorry.” If she doesn’t understand (or offer to stay), there wasn’t much of a friendship to protect.