Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not a happy camper

In case the symbolism of my last post was lost on you, I'm really busy.


I find it tedious to write laundry list posts detailing my to-do's and distractions-- needless to say, there feels like a lot of them at the moment, from the overbearing (manuscripts and proposals) to the more banal (taking out the recycling). Besides, when life gets particularly crazy, it ceases to feel like a list, and more like one giant inseparable bundle.

So when I received last minute notice that an assessment I was scheduled to do today was cancelled, I was happy to have some spare hours in my back pocket. While I scammed a few moments to catch up on laundry and to grab lunch under a burst of sunshine, the bulk of my time, several hours in fact, was spent editing a friend's thesis.

My friend is in a bit of a frenzied state. Due to a number of circumstances, both in and out of her realm of control, she has fallen behind her schedule, and is desperate to defend her thesis by the end of the semester. I have become a one-woman support team of sorts, fielding calls regarding statistical analyses and ways of framing results, as well as editing proposals and other such documents. Sometimes I will feel frustratingly bombarded, but she also makes a point of repaying me in other ways, such as inviting me over for home cooked dinners.

Knowing that she has been especially frazzled lately, I slog through her thesis. It is an aggravating process, in that it feels as though she hasn't sent me her best work. When someone asks for my spare time, I kind of expect them to be providing me their first-rate work, so I can focus on bigger issues of structure, rather than correcting grammar and formatting, something they can easily do themselves-- especially when it has supposedly already went through at least two rounds of fierce edits.

I finish in the afternoon, and send it to her, less than 24 hours after her initial request, and move onto to my pile of readings.

A few hours later, my phone rings. Caller ID reveals it to be her, and I expect that she will ask me some clarification questions as she usually does. It turns out she ostensibly looking for advice on an unrelated matter, although it really looks like an excuse to rant. After she has apparently met her catharsis needs, she casually says "Oh, thanks for sending me those edits! I actually already spoke to *post-doc* about my intro, though, so I had already sent it on to *supervisor* by the time you got back to me."

She continues to chatter on in another direction, but I stop her.

"Did you say you had already sent it on before you even got my edits?"

"Yeah..." 

It is only when I tell her that I spent the bulk of my day so far working on it, and clarify that she had sent it to me less than 24 hours prior that a tinge of guilt seeps into her voice.

My short answers elicit more apologizing, claims of stress induced lack of consideration, getting more frantic as the conversation proceeds. When I don't rant or rave, she actually asks me if I will edit her methods section tomorrow.

I am proud to say that Princess Doormat (that being me) said no.

I hang up the phone, and the restlessness I have miraculously managed to avoid so far today returns. I feel both angry and defeated. I actually spent hours editing a paper on the behalf of a friend, who, despite reassuring me yesterday that she understood how crazy things had been for me lately, didn't bother to even sent me a two second email to tell me she didn't need my help anymore-- as though my 18 hour turnover was too long for her to wait. And she had the gall to ask for my help again the next day!

It makes me think that all along she was simply wiping her muddy boots all over me.

30 comments:

Airam said...

Ah, yes. The doormat. It took awhile, but I finally peeled that label off of me. And I'm glad that you did too.

Psychgrad said...

I am so glad you said no to editing her methods section. I don't think I would ever ask a friend to edit my work for me. Maybe if they were an expert in a topic and I wanted their feedback. But, that to me seems more like a professional exchange than just getting a friend to make my life easier. Maybe that's just semantics.

jenn said...

Good work saying no! I totally have to get rid of my doormat tendencies...

nicoleantoinette said...

Ugh. I'm proud of you for turning her down a second time.

Crushed said...

I had to read my mate's MA dissertation for him at uni. 70 pages on landfill sites, complete with diagrams...

You seem to be quite conscious at the moment of people taking advantage.

Is this a hew hardening of outlook?

wee-h said...

Go you (i sound so American saying that). Ive been feeling like a total dormat myself recently, with friends walking all over me. Tried and failed to stand up for myself last night. Maybe i should learn to say no too. Must be the hardest word to say...

dmb5_libra said...

i totally understand the being busy! seriously, being sick, then being on vacation, then work kicked my ass and is still kicking it! but good for you kicking ass and not being a doormat :)

lspoon said...

Ugh, I hate that with such a passion. I wish people wouldn't get so blinded by their busyness that they step on their friends.

Psych Post Doc said...

Wow, good for you. I can't believe she had the nerve to ask you for more help.

distracted spunk said...

*nods* Ooh. I like this new comment thingy. But um. I honestly think that we overstep our boundaries far too often. Or we try to help and end up getting annoyed in doing so. I think a little bit of "me-me-me" time is definitely allowed. Especially when you're so super busy.

Princess Extraordinaire said...

I am really REALLY proud of you for saying no. I can't belive she had the audactity to ask you once again even after the first indesretion! You did a great job standing up for yourself!

Princess of the Universe said...

Oh honey, I know she's a friend and all, but good for you for saying no. That was NOT cool what she did to you...
xo

Ana said...

That's wonderful that you said NO! Hooray!

benjibopper said...

ever heard the REM song Binky the Doormat?

"I wore my doormat face (go away, go away, go away, go, go, go)
I hung my this or that (go away, go away, go away, go away)
I laid my welcome mat (go away, go away, go away, go, go, go)"

This post reminded me of that, but like all the other commenters I'm glad you cut off the gravy train. She basically failed to respect your precious time and that's not cool, especially for someone who should understand why time is precious.

ToughGirl101 said...

good on you for saying now! I know that for some people it's hard to tell people to do their own work or to find someone else!

I hope things get easier for you soon hon.

Shaba said...

Wow. I'd be pissed. Good for you for refusing to do the methods section review.

Yoda said...

You know what? I have had that very thing happen to me. It was so damn FRUSTRATING. Needless to say, I wasn't really friends with the dude any more.

Lately, I've been so busy too, and my blog has borne most of the brunt of neglect.

Surfergrrl said...

ugh, i would be pissed too.

captain corky said...

That's pretty shitty, and I'm glad you said no to her. Maybe she won't take you for granted in the future. You know Corky never does. ;)

Z said...

I'm sympathetic to both sides of this one, actually... She was waaay inconsiderate, and I'm glad you let her know that and said no to her next request, but I DO know how stress can warp people's ability to make logical decisions, so I doubt she meant anything by what she did, or really was able to look past her own stress and see/comprehend yours. Sometimes panic takes over reason, and even though she intellectually knows you have your own stress, she prob can't see past her own to really understand that... HOWEVER, you saying no was totally the right thing. YOU have to live with and deal with your own stress, and adding hers on top of yours isn't going to help. So... YAY for you for saying no, and I hope that you can deal with some of your own laundry list of things to do now!!!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

You were surprisingly restrained. Good show!

Speaking of which, I have this piece of work I need looking at..

;-)

Mrs4444 said...

This reminds me of a partner I had in my Masters class; her writing was TERRIBLE from a grammatical point of view, and it was brutal. I felt like I had a part time job "helping" her. The worst part of it was that this woman was a TEACHER!!

Bayjb said...

I definitely still have doormat tendencies but I try to battle them and don't let them take over everything again like it used to. Good for you saying no!

Daisy said...

Wow, I am such a doormat, I would like to think I could be as strong but past experience has proved me wrong! Just re-found your blog again after I've had a name change - glad to see you again!

the frog princess said...

Ugh, how frustrating!! I am impressed that you kept your cool, I probably would have flipped out on her.

Good on you for saying "No." Perhaps that will give your friend a little wake-up call that your favours are not to be taken for granted.

brandy said...

Oh damn. That's so frustrating when people do stuff like that. Good for you for saying no though- and for clarifying the time you spent doing it. Whether she realizes it or not- she's lucky to have you. And you are lucky that you were able to say exactly what you needed to. Well done!

chasinglibby said...

arghhh that is SO FRUSTRATING. i'm glad you put your foot down!

Crashdummie said...

Princess Doormatt, I'm glad that you showd her the door!

But I know the feeling, you give too much of yourself to help ppl out who dont deserv nor appreciate it. As long as you learn something from it I guess its worth it...

Mega said...

You shouldn't offer anymore help. Instead, you should write me epic messages through the FB

Anonymous said...

this is doubtful... but it could be a test. I wish some of my door mat-y friends had more of a spine. I sometimes push them til they push back. character building and such. Anyways congrats on saying know, everyone should practice that