Sunday, June 21, 2009

Shockingly Appalling Behavior: Maid of Dishonor

Have you ever had an instance in which someone's behavior is so awful, that you wonder how individuals like that go through life? They're so oblivious to their own lack of decency and respect for others.

Today's shenanigans were so bad that they inspired this new blog series. I am going to recount my many, endless tales of being treated poorly by different people. One by one.

This weekend a friend of mine from college got married. Originally I'd planned on going with my husband, but he had to work. And then another friend from college said she would meet up with me and we would share a hotel room that the bride's other had already booked and was non-refundable. Then she told me she was unable to go at the last minute. Now, the last few weeks have been rather stressful and although I just got back tonight from 12 hours on the road, I have another obligation tomorrow morning. I was not expecting to see any other friends at this wedding and kind of wanted to stay home, but would have felt bad backing out of the hotel room. Plus, when I say I'm going to do something, I don't like to flake out.

So I went to this wedding. By myself. Another of the bride's friends ended up crashing in the room with me, and that was nice. We carpooled to the wedding and I find it fun to meet new people, especially when they are friends with a friend.

At the wedding, I was excited to find a small handful of people I knew from college. It was a great surprise. One of the girls is a good friend that I had not seen in a very long time. She and I got to catch up and I met her lovely husband for the first time.

As I was trying to leave the reception, the father of the bride said he had an emergency. The maid of honor, Abbie, needed a ride to the airport the next day to catch a flight back to Boston. He told me that the Charlotte, NC airport was about an hour away and that it was "kind of" on my way back to Florida. Abbie told me that she could leave "whenever."

Now, I thought it was a bit odd for the bride's parents to ask an out of town wedding guest with probably one of the longest drives home to drive an hour out of their way to take a stranger to the airport. I barely know the bride's parents, having only met them once before. However, they were very kind to me and I've been helped in the past by people I barely knew. So I felt I should pass along the favor. The parents seemed very grateful and relieved that this girl, a family friend was taken care of. Abbie and I agreed to meet back up at 11am the next day to leave. Her flight was at 2pm, so that seemed like a good plan.

The next morning I was getting my things together at the hotel when Abbie called around 1015am. She had a rather brusque tone when she told me that she'd been mistaken about her flight time. It actually left "a little sooner" than she'd thought. Also, that the airport was TWO hours away instead of one hour. She asked if I could "get there any sooner?" Now, if she had called at 9:30, everything would have been fine. But we were definitely cutting it close, as I'd planned to leave my hotel at 10:30. At this point, I still had to check out. "Getting there sooner" was not very likely with no advance notice.

I told her that I'd get to her hotel as soon as I could. But I did wonder why she did not check her correct flight time sooner.

At 10:58, I pulled up to the drive, and Abbie ran out and put her suitcase in the trunk of my car. I pulled out my phone's GPS to get directions to the airport. When I asked her what time her flight actually left, she said "1:07." The ETA to the airport said "12:57." It did not look like there was any way we'd make it. By this point, I was driving back toward the interstate. Now, I did not want to be rude, but I had almost a ten hour drive ahead of me. If there was no urgency for her to get back, and she would miss her flight, I really was not feeling very up to driving this girl to the airport. It was also double the drive that I thought it would be, and we were still near her hotel.

I asked her why we were driving to the airport, only for her to miss her flight. She told me she wanted me to take her anyways so that she could "try to make it" and if not, to try to change flights. Now, keep in mind, that Abbie really does not know me at all. It's not like we got to know each other at the wedding or anything. In fact, she'd barely said two words to me... until she needed a ride to the airport.

Abbie called the airline, to see if they had any later flights. They apparently were going to charge $500 for her to switch flights, and she was um, very unhappy about that.

Since it looked like she was now in no hurry to get to the airport, I expressed my concern about the time. My ten hour drive was going to be a twelve hour drive. I asked her if we could drive to a car rental branch and if maybe she would be willling to rent a car to drive herself, because there was really no reason for me to go to Charlotte, I am unfamiliar with the area, and had a very long day ahead of me. I am always willing to help someone, but in this case, it would have helped me greatly if I could just start heading south. From Asheville, Charlotte is two hours east. It made no sense for me to go in that direction.

Abbie responded in a haughty tone, "I don't want to drive." She then told me that I "should have said something the night before" if I could not take her to the airport. Keep in mind, the pretenses I was given when I agreed to do this were much different.

I suggested that if she did not want to pay the $500, that it would be far cheaper just to rent a car and drive back to Boston. It would be a long trip as well, but not nearly as costly. She responded, "That's what I was trying to avoid."

So this girl I don't really know was not willing to put in any effort whatsoever to get to the airport or get home, but was totally willing to impose greatly on a stranger who had to drive from North Carolina to FLORIDA that day??? What is wrong with her, I thought.

I asked her if there was anyone else who could possibly take her to the airport later in the day. She gave me a rather witheriing look, and told me that she might have been able to find someone to take her, if I had "said something earlier." She did say that her aunt lived in the area, but she made no effort to contact her own family to see if they could help her out. Yet, she was fine with imposing on a complete stranger.
Abbie also made several mentions of how I would be "screwing her" if I didn't drive her.

That pissed me off. I really, really, really wanted to pull over and tell Abbie to get the fuck out of my car. The only reason that I did not actually do that was to keep peace. After all, she's a close friend of one of my friends. Looking back, I should have dumped Abbie at a gas station and reminded her that her travel woes were really not my problem. Instead, I kept driving towards the airport.

On the way, Abbie told me that she was "sorry" to do this to me, because she had told the bride several times that she needed a ride to the airport, but that the bride had forgotten. (yes, because the maid of honor's travel arrangements are the bride's responsibility) She'd also accidentally booked the return flight originally to the wrong state. Yes, I'm serious. The WRONG STATE. She'd sent her flight information to the bride, and apparently, very late in the game, the bride noticed the error. Abbie then proceeded to tell me that the bride should have noticed that earlier, and we would not be in this predicament. That was why she was "confused" on the flight time. I also did not understand why she did not check the flight time earlier. This whole dilemma was completely her own fault. She never once admitted that.

Unless I'm mistaken, people are responsible for themselves. When I was a maid of honor for my best friend Jill a few years back, the last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience Jill or her family in any way. I flew into town, and got a rental car, so they would not have to worry about my transportation. In fact, instead of asking for rides, I ended up helping to pick up other members of the wedding party at the airport. Why didn't Abbie rent her own car or at least try to arrange for her transportation on her own, instead of expecting her friend the bride to do it for her.

Whenever I take a trip out of town, I always rent a car, so that I do not inconvenience my friends and family. Yes, it is an extra expense, but it is worth the preservation and upkeep of relationships.

Anyways, back to the passenger from hell. I could barely keep from losing my temper, so my method of dealing with Abbie was to just stay silent and glance at my GPS every five seconds. I really could not believe this was happening. It was like a bad dream, and I wish that was all it was. The girl even had the nerve to change my radio settings and tell me how to drive. In my opinion, if you're in someone ELSE'S car, that's a no-no.

I tried to go as fast as I could, partly because I just wanted to get this God awful experience over with. For reasons beyond me, I actually did attempt to get Abbie to the airport to catch her flight. The entire way, I swear, I drove 20 miles over the speed limit. The irony is that Abbie was okay with me risking my drivers license for her, but she refused to even consider getting a rental car to relieve me of this unwanted duty. She had not printed out her boarding pass online like most travelers who want to shave some time, so I suggested she call her airline and alert them to her situation. She really did not seem to have a clue what to do. I figured if she only had to get through security, she would increase her chance of making the flight.

During the car ride, she insisted that "I am totally planning on giving you money for gas." I told her that money was really not the issue. She said quietly, "I know. It's the time." Yet, she did not once offer any form of compromise to help me out at all or take responsibility to fix her own problems. Later, she said she would "send me a check." Yeah, because I really need $20 from her that bad.

Believe it or not, I made at least a two hour trip in one hour and 39 minutes. And for this, I got a rather casual "thanks" from Abbie on her way out of my car. The level of gratitude was such that of a teenager to her mother dropping her off at soccer practice after school.

Honestly, I was just glad to get that bitch out of my car.

How can someone be so delusional about everyone around them? If I had been in that situation, well, I would never get myself into a mess like that to begin with, but I digress. She just expected everything to be taken care of for her, even though she's supposedly an adult. If it had been me, I would have rather paid $200 for a taxi to the airport than ask some poor wedding guest to drive them. Also, I didn't think my suggestion to have her rent a car was bad at all. If not for my excessive speeding, there is NO WAY she would have made it to the airport on time. I almost wish I would have driven 40 the whole way so that she would have been out the $500. Not to sound boastful, but I completely saved her ass, and $500.

If someone did that for me, I would at the very least, send them a very nice gift or a check for AT LEAST $100. I also would have profusely thanked the person, and tried to give them whatever money I could for their trouble.

It's my understanding that Abbie did not urgently have to be back in Boston. Apparently she's an aspiring actress. Yeah, good luck with that. So it's not like she had a dying loved one to get back to or anything. She definitely didn't have a career to get back to on Monday like I do.

I'm not a mean person. If I was, I totally would have left this girl's ass somewhere in Hendersonville. She's over 18 and had a cell phone. It would have been a helpful life lesson for this obviously self absorbed twentysomething.

If she had been nice to me, NONE of this would have been an issue. But Abbie treated me like shit and wasted two hours of my time taken away from spending time with my husband and kitten. That was really uncool of her.

The sad thing is, she probably has no idea or semblance that she acted completely inappropriately towards me. Well, Abbie, the next person you do that to may not put up with that.

Soon after I left her at the airport, I received this text from Abbie.

"I made it! Jen, you're my hero. I can't thank you enough."

Umm, I really don't want to be your hero. Why don't you save yourself, girlfriend?

My response:

"Glad to have helped save you $500."


Anonymous said...

I'm speechless. Have you ever thought relating this end of the story to her and/or to the bride? Seems wrong for anyone to simply "get away" with this kind of behavior. But-arg! How frustrating. So sorry this happened to you. J

Donna Freedman said...

Jennifer, you've done more than "pay it forward" -- you've put up with crap from a stranger that most of us wouldn't put up with from friends or family.
The young woman sounds immature and self-centered. Shame on the father of the bride for imposing on you like that.
Unfortunately, you suffer from what I call "the curse of the well-behaved" -- that is, you thought it would be a good thing to help someone and were unable to extricate yourself from an imposition that grew increasingly ridiculous. It's easy for someone who wasn't in your shoes to say "I would have told her to call a shuttle service," but when you're in the thick of something like that your upbringing takes over and you just keep saying "OK" even though your mind is screaming, "Run!"
It's over now, but what a pain in the neck it must have been. Maybe in the future you'll be able to repeat a phrase that a therapist told me is very useful: "That won't work for me."
The tough part is making it stick -- because the users of the world have a special part of the brain that helps them sniff out "nice" people, i.e., people whom they can exploit. So I suggest you practice saying, "That won't work for me." It takes a lot of work to learn NOT to be the nice person. But it's easier on the stomach lining.
By the way, did she ever send you money for gas? I'm betting not. She probably thinks the "thanks! you're my hero!" text was a sufficient expression of gratitude.

Jennifer said...

Donna, your words are very appreciated and hit home with me. After the incident, it made me realize that I need to put my own needs first sometimes and that's okay. (At least Suze Orman says so!) Currently, I am working on being "less nice." And by that, I don't mean being a total witch, but learning to say "no" when the situation puts me at an inconvenience.
The parents of the bride sent me a rather interesting card expressing that my favor gave them more time with their own of town family members. (No gas money, no gift card though)
While I was glad for the card, I still don't think they "get" that they should not have asked me to do that.
Recently I spoke with the bride on Google chat and told her exactly what I thought of the situation. That I was still very upset and I thought her "best friend" treated me extremely poorly. The bride, while explaining that Abbie had actually acted like that all week, it was "just her nature" and that she was "like a little sister to her."
That really did me no good.
Honestly, I highly doubt that this young woman and I will remain friends at all. And that's actually okay.
Sometimes you need to streamline your friendships and purge the unhealthy relationships.
Thanks so much for the validation. It brightened up my day.

Jennifer said...

And to answer your question, NO ONE sent me gas money.