Right, I reckon it’s at least ten years since this last happened to me so I can say it without anyone being sure I’m talking about them. I’m not. I’m talking about me and about something I wish weren’t true about me. It is also unquestionably one of the very few things you can do that is poison to us ever working together again.
It’s been on my mind for good reasons rather than anything bad: I haven’t really been counting the days down to some statute of limitations. All that’s happened lately is that I’ve been working with someone who has had to postpone several meetings. I can’t remember how many, I just remember that it’s been a few and that it didn’t matter to me. As much as I like working with her, as tremendously, exhaustingly, cleverly useful she’s being for me, changing meeting times is fine. It’s a shrug.
If I think of it consciously at all, it’s that I’m freelance, she’s freelance, it is just normal to have things changing a lot. The thing is, she or you or anyone could phone me to cancel the meeting even when I was on my way to it and I’d be fine with that. It’s definitely a trust thing: I trust that anyone or you or she wouldn’t do it unless it was necessary.
You could argue and she has said that I am accommodating. I like that. I like being accommodating, I like being liked for it, I like that she’s promised me cake next time we meet and I hope she’s realised it has to be chocolate cake. I have standards.
What I don’t like is how badly I react when someone just doesn’t turn up. No changing, no cancelling, no calling while I’m on the way, just not coming. That’s the poison. That’s the end of us working together. You can well imagine that things happen, road accidents for a start, that make it impossible for someone to arrive and I know this, it just doesn’t help. That’s why I don’t like this in myself but, to be fair, in each of the very few times it’s happened, it has not been for a good or necessary reason. They’ve just forgotten.
Maybe it’s an ego thing with me, that I don’t like being forgotten. I don’t want to think so: usually I’m more surprised when someone remembers me. I do think that time is precious and you can waste yours but you can’t waste mine and expect me to like it. Yet I can’t shake the idea that it’s my ego. I really don’t like this. Remind me: why am I telling you this?
I know when I started telling you that I had about three occasions in my mind but somehow now I’ve only got the one. Once a guy didn’t turn up and a colleague told me it was my fault, that I should’ve rechecked the time in his diary with him. I’ve no clue how long ago this was now but I can see me in front of her saying “He picked the time” and I can see me simply losing it. Real anger. It had been bottled up and it went right back into that bottle but for that single sentence it was out and it was enough that she tracked him down.
I heard her telling him that he ought to call me, that she’d never seen me like this. I’m really unclear but I think despite this it was several hours later that he phoned me. He needn’t have bothered phoning, she needn’t have taken the time finding him. We were through the second he didn’t appear.
I can rationalise it easily enough: you can’t work with someone you no longer trust to do what they say. But I’ve often worked with people I didn’t trust to do what they said so it can’t really be that. It must be a deep and ego-based character flaw in me and I suddenly realise that I’ve just given you the keys.
You wouldn’t stand me up, you’re far too nice. I think what I’m really saying is don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry – and neither would I. Now, as it happens, I’ve got that rearranged meeting. I’ve told her that I want so much cake that we can’t see each other across the table.