Unreliability. Just Can’t [Be] Leave It

Jaime Coyne

Probably one of the most frustrating things in my life has been being ditched by unreliable people. If you make plans with someone, if you promise something, you try your hardest to come through. It seems pretty straightforward to me. At some point, we reached the age where we could drive ourselves around, and thus were responsible for our own transportation instead of relying on our parents to be prompt. Ever since that time when the licenses appeared, I have constantly found myself waiting for someone who is half an hour late, having plans canceled on me minutes before they are due to take place, or keeping an eye out for a call that never comes.

I’ve consistently had amazing friends over the years. From infancy, in fact. But between the long-distance friendships, the difference in school years, the deathly illnesses, the myriad of activities we’re each committed to, and the friends who were more interested in other friendships, they haven’t always been the most dependable relationships. Obviously, sometimes the reason for being unreliable is an unfortunate and unavoidable circumstance, and not merely the act of an inconsiderate person. But in the long run, it leaves the recipient feeling the same isolation. I’ve often found myself thinking, “There is no one I can just call or visit any time I need to talk or cry. I have so many friends! Why can’t one of them be that person?”

Maybe some people aren’t disturbed by this habit of being unreliable because it is generally a mutual understanding of, “these plans will likely fall through.” But I consider myself a fairly reliable person. I’m generally on time to things, and I turn down plans if they will conflict with a promise I’ve already made. I honestly feel terrible whenever I do have to break plans with people, and tend to apologize profusely in such instances. Most people don’t even seem concerned when they cancel, and often have to be prompted into an explanation. Yes, I do wonder why I’ve been counting ceiling tiles for 20 minutes when we agreed to get here at noon! Perhaps the most maddening thing of all is when you miss out on something because you had plans prior to this new invitation, only to discover that your plans have been canceled at the last minute.

It could just be me. Maybe everyone else has incredibly responsible, reliable friends. Maybe I’m overreacting. But I have a feeling that this is fairly universal. We let people walk all over us. We treat each other terribly. And we don’t even realize it, in a lot of situations. We’re too consumed in our own lives to perceive the effects we can have on others. It isn’t until someone abandons us for the cute boy who finally noticed them, or for essentially no real reason at all, that we feel the injustice of such undependable behavior.

I guess I write this as a plea, for everyone who has ever gone from having too many options to none in the course of five minutes. Be aware of the plans you’ve committed yourself to, and the feelings of your friends. At some point, you have to be that dependable person for someone, or else you may find that no one will reciprocate, and you have no plans left to break.