5 Things to Remember When Dealing With Unreliable People
We all have that friend. Or maybe we are that friend. The one who always shows up an hour after he says he will. The one who makes promises and then breaks them without so much as a "Go fuck yourself until you die of dick." And as many times as he's screwed us over, we still blindly give him our faith, thinking that this time will be different because this time the plans are important. There's no way he'll mess this one up because nobody on Earth is that irresponsible. And then he does it again.
Over years of dealing with these assholes (as well as having been one), I've learned to remind myself of a few things that help me put down the knife and soothe the Murder Beast that forever beckons me into its seductive embrace. The next time someone jams your own plans into your colon, try to keep in mind ...
The Smallest Favor May Be a Huge Pain in Their Ass
Asking for favors is hard enough because it feels like you're admitting a certain degree of failure. Your car breaks down, and you have no cash until payday, so you grit your teeth and call a friend to ask if they can put on their Iron Man suit and fly you to work for the next three days. A "normal" friend won't mind because that's what friends do. But it's still hard to not feel like you should have done something more to ensure that you had an emergency fund or a personal mechanic to ride along with you everywhere you went.
While you may think that what you're asking for is simple and reasonable, it may actually be destroying their day. For instance, your friend lives only five minutes away. At 400 miles per hour, work is only a 10-minute flight -- what's the big deal? Fifteen minutes isn't too much to ask of a friend.
Oh, never mind. It's a cheap knockoff version. We'll call it 300 miles per hour.
Except now they have to wake up on your schedule. And even though they were probably going to put on their Iron Man suit anyway and fly around the city, screaming, "WHEEEEEE!" they hadn't really planned on starting before noon because of their crippling hangover. Once they drop you off, it's another 15 minutes back because that's the way traveling works. Add in the time it takes to put on the suit and arm the lasers and your "quick 10-minute favor" has bonered into an hour-long, half-awake clusterfuck that they don't normally have to deal with.
The problem from their end is that when a person is in those situations that they hate (menial tasts at work, chores, corpse removal), it's pretty easy to put that shit off until the last second. And, hey, what right do you have to get angry at them, even if you're late? They're doing you a favor. They could have told you to go slide ass-first down Dick Mountain, but they didn't.
Under that snow lies inevitable sodomy.
From your end, of course you have the right to be pissed. If they couldn't make it on time, they should have just told you they couldn't do it. At least then, you could have had made time to walk to work.
Yes, I know that's a fairly specific situation, but it's important to keep in mind because the core idea is the same no matter what the scenario. There's always more action required from their favor than what you're picturing in your head. And if they're not prepared for it (who ever is?) then, yes, there's a good chance they're not going to be in sync with your plans.
They May Just Suck at Saying 'No'
I've had this problem my entire life. I think a lot of people do. If someone is asking me for help, no matter what I have going on in my life, I usually make an attempt to supply it. We're talking about legitimate, reasonable requests, here. Obviously, if someone asks to borrow $10,000 in order to Bejewel the roof of their show dog's house, it's probably not in the cards.
A year or two ago, I had to draw a line concerning requests from people, asking me to read and critique their writing. And even though the combination of work and family left me with little time to do much else, it still sucked to set that boundary because what they're asking isn't a huge deal. Not if it's just a person or two every now and again. It's an entirely different story when it's 20 people a week.
My reply was always just a picture of the word "NOPE" written across my dick.
Before that decision, however, I would agree to the requests. Then their work would sit for a week while I took care of my other priorities, until finally I'd get an angry email, telling me that if I wasn't going to give them feedback, just tell them so they can finish up the article and submit it to whatever website was in the market for Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! erotica. In their eyes I was ignoring them -- a holier-than-thou asshole who couldn't be relied upon to read a simple five minutes worth of cartoon anal.
From my perspective, I had overloaded myself with favors that would never take priority over my normal paying work. Even emailing back to tell them that I didn't have time would sometimes be met with, "In the time it took you to write this email, you could have read the piece."
This was happening with total strangers. Imagine what it's like when close friends or family members are involved. "What? I'm not good enough to merit your time? You need to remember where you came from! Family always comes first, chief!" In all their eyes, I'm unreliable because I've agreed to do whatever they're asking ... then when other priorities bump down the promises I've made, it makes me look extremely irresponsible.
This is how every member of my family sees me, now.
A simple, polite "no" could fix all of that, but it's extremely hard to say when what they're asking of you seems so ... well, doable. The truth is that my unfulfillable promises are irresponsible. I am, in fact, to blame, even if my failure is justified by circumstance. And I think that's true for many people reading this article.
Make a "Plan B." And Also a "Plan A." And Probably a "Plan C" -- Your Friend is None of These
One piece of advice I see popping up a lot is "Create a Plan B." You know ... in case their irresponsibility kicks in and they ditch you without notice. When you're dealing with someone who's occasionally unreliable, that's not bad advice. Accidents happen. People forget things. Flash orgies pop up. It's annoying but forgivable.
But the truth is, dealing with that type of person is relatively easy. Having a friend who is a coin toss is a whole lot less frustrating than dealing with someone stealing the pants you were wearing that had all of your tossing coins in them. The people we're talking about here are those who could fuck up a cannonball. You wouldn't make them a Plan C, let alone the next-in-line safety net plan. Let me give you an example that happened a few days ago.
It all started with a woman who was confused by her bracelet.
My mother-in-law moved in with us recently and got a job fairly close to home. It's walkable, but she just got on some medication that requires her to stay out of the heat and sun. Since my wife has the car at her own job, we resorted to asking a friend to pick her up. A friend we'll call "Cluster Fucko," for privacy's sake, who is notorious for being the least reliable person we know. Cluster was our last resort, but we figured it would be OK because we repeatedly stressed upon him how important this was and why.
Obviously, Fucko never showed up, and my mother-in-law had to walk to work, making her 20 minutes late and drenched in sweat. Not the sexy kind you see in commercials, but the disgusting kind that makes people cry.
This was our fault.
Oh, don't look so fake-surprised, bad stock photo model.
Yes, you read that right. Our fault. Not Cluster Fucko's. See, there's a line from the movie Jackie Brown that fits perfectly here: "Well, you can't trust Melanie ... but you can always trust Melanie to be Melanie."
It means that when you know that someone is consistently untrustworthy and unreliable, you have to plan around it. Their inevitable fuckup has to become a part of your plans. "Cluster said he'd pick you up? Awesome. That's Plan Z. Now we need to have a Plan A because him not showing up is absolutely going to happen."
Personal Change Can Take Years -- if They Choose to Change at All
When you first make friends with someone, you can't expect them to jump up and help you out at a moment's notice. You may enjoy hanging out and throwing urine balloons at abortion clinic protesters, but sacrificing their day so that you can get through yours isn't really on the plate just yet. It's understandable. We get that.
But as the friendship grows and matures, there's a certain amount of change that's expected. Doing favors or even just showing up on time is a display of respect, or at least "I give a shit about you." Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of that level of change. And in fact, some are even insulted that you'd expect it in the first place. "Wait, you don't like me the way I am? Fuck you, buddy. You can just try peeing into your own balloon without me."
Even if they are capable of that level of change, it takes time. Shitloads of it.
And it has to be done while standing on a giant ghost clock. Them's the rules.
About four years ago, I quit drinking. It was the single biggest step in me becoming a stable, functioning human, but it didn't happen overnight. See, I was under the impression that drinking turned me into an arrogant, narcissistic douchebag. What I wasn't prepared for was finding out that though drinking may have brought that out a bit more than when I was sober, that dark, asshole side was as much a part of me as my vascular system. I'm still working on flushing that from my personality, almost half a decade later. I'm sure I'll still be working on it when I'm 80.
It's a core personality trait, and changing it is damn near as complex and slow moving as physically changing the path of those arteries. And that's if the person even wants to change at all.
You have to keep in mind that even though their actions are affecting you negatively, in all likelihood, nothing is wrong from their perspective. Some people simply lack the ability to see the world from outside of their own personal bubble. And what's going on in their space is nice and orderly. Being late doesn't affect them. Canceling plans without notice isn't a big deal. Skipping out of promises doesn't mean much. Since they see no problem, there's no need for them to change in order to advance the friendship.
"Busy" becomes a relative term for everyone involved.
So it stagnates in the acquaintance stage, them forever stewing in that sewage of unreliability. And as long as they refuse to grow along with the relationship, they will never, ever be trustworthy.
And for that reason ...
Some People Are Just Unflushable Pieces of Shit
They're stinking up your life. Figure out who they are, grab a plunger, and lose 'em.