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An unexpected phone call at midnight is never a welcome sound. I was immediately awake and alert. The call was from a former co-worker and current friend. We had shared dinner at least annually for several years after I left the workplace, so I was understandably concerned that she should be calling me in the middle of the night. After I verified that it was indeed ___, she proceeded to explain the plight of her son and asked if I would please send her money early in the morning from the Walmart service counter. I’d never heard of such a service, so needed detailed explanation for how it worked. The request was for $200 for bail for her son who was in jail.
I knew she had been unemployed for a short while, she said she didn’t have enough available cash. Her son’s ex-wife also had no available cash. She had told me many tales over the years about her irresponsible adult son who always relied on Mom to pick up his missed rent or car payment, pay child support, or whatever needed doing – and Mom always came through. As at earlier times, I argued that she should not bail him out of this current jam, let him stay in jail, and not feel guilty about his self-induced lot in life. She was insistent that this was different; that he was charged with a false accusation.
In the morning, I went to Walmart, learned another new thing, and sent the money order as instructed.
She called 2 more times and, I’m ashamed to say, I complied with her sobbing requests and promise to repay as soon as she sold something. The story was about sale of some asset that should produce significant cash within the month. By my 3rd trip to Walmart in as many days, the clerk who waited on me was inclined to argue about the truthfulness of the request for money. My total loss was $600 plus whatever the money orders cost. Her 4th phone call resulted in harsh words from me and I haven’t spoken to her since.
After about a week of stewing about the whole mess, I called the clerk of court to ask if the son had indeed been in jail, or if the ex-daughter-in-law was involved with the court. The son had not been in jail. The ex-daughter-in-law’s name was familiar but not as an inmate. With a call to our former employer, I learned that __ had taken another former employee for several thousand dollars. I considered filing the loss with small claims court, but knew that would not likely produce good results, so saved myself the irritation of continuing to deal with my poor judgement. Education always comes with some cost.
We should be able to trust our friends. How do you tell a friend that you don’t believe the words she is saying to you? Although I’ve been a successful manager and leader, I’ve always had difficulty challenging someone on their truthfulness without proof positive in front of me.
It’s been several years and, if I think about the situation, I am still angry and confused. Angry at my “friend”, and at me. Confused about why someone would take advantage of a long-standing friendship. I guess I have forgiven her, and hope that whatever was her problem has been resolved. Thankfully, my financial loss was not devastating.
No advice to offer from this lesson. Sorry.
About the Author
Joan Bachman is a Registered Nurse, Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Registered Health Information Technician, and Faith Community Nurse. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Joan has experience as a Nurse, Administrator, Developer, Trainer, Grant Writer, and served as Administrator of SD State Survey Agency. She has consulted with health care facilities and nonprofit organizations and presented leadership training. Joan is the author of Guidebook for Assisted Living Facilities and Senior Service Providers and Guidebook for Physician Services in the Nursing Facility, and she has published in professional journals.
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