I had a situation come up last week— a friend who runs the choir I sometimes sing with asked me if I could sing with them the following Sunday (yesterday.) I said that I could probably work it out to sing with them on Sunday, if she needed me, but I could not manage to make rehearsal because of a scheduling conflict. The rule is that if you don’t practice, you don’t sing, so I thought it worth mentioning. She said she was concerned that they might need an extra voice. I said I could practice on my own and come early to practice before the service. She thanked me and said she’d let me know after she saw how practice went on Wednesday.
On Thursday, I got an email where she said she didn’t think they’d need me. Which is totally fine. Save me an hour of rehearsal on my weekend, I’m not going to complain. But she ended the email by saying something about it not being fair because I didn’t come to rehearsal. This is the part that kills me. I told her I couldn’t sing with the choir once I had a standing conflict. I was under the impression that I couldn’t sing with the choir. She asked me if I would sing with the choir knowing that I had a standing conflict with the rehearsal time, and then told me that my request to sing with the choir would be denied because I failed to make rehearsal, because it wasn’t fair.
I’m trying not to make a big thing out of it, but please, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t ask me to do you a favor and then tell me you can’t let me do the favor for you because it wouldn’t be fair. Fair to whom? To her— the person who asked me to do the favor? To me, who she asked to do something above and beyond in full knowledge of the conflict? On exactly whom are we perpetrating injustice? I’m not confused by this tactic, I’m just enraged by it.
So I went to church yesterday, and I noticed that someone who was scheduled to read the readings wasn’t there when they were supposed to be (10 minutes before we started— you’re supposed to be there 20 minutes in advance, but things start to fall apart 10 minutes before, if you’re not there). I went and asked the person in charge if they knew that person wasn’t there, and if they’d like me to prepare to do them, in case that person was delayed or unable to make it. First, I just did the stuff that wasn’t going to get done if they weren’t early. I checked again, still not there. Five minutes before, I asked if they wanted me to do the readings. The person in charge said yes. Three minutes before church started, the person tapped me on the shoulder and said brightly “looking for me?” She seemed to imply that I was cutting her out of what she was there to do. This made me irritated partially because the same thing happened two weeks ago and partially because this was not about me. I didn’t do something to her, I was doing something for her. I feel like the only reasonable response to finding ourselves in this situation again is “I’m so sorry I’m late— I know we’re short on time, so let’s figure out how we’ll handle this.” Also, I was kneeling with my hands over my eyes— it was fairly clear that I wasn’t looking for anyone. As any cop who’s ever stopped me and asked “do you know why I stopped you?” could tell you, I don’t react well to questions like this. (By which I mean that I always walk away with a ticket, because I cannot muster a poker face when I’m asked a question that seems designed to set me up to do something stupid.)
I recognize that in both of these situations, the women were trying to save face by dodging responsibility for something that they had mishandled. And I don’t fault them for having mishandled things— I’m frequently late and terminally imperfect. I had no judgment of either of them for the actual thing they were dodging responsibility over. What bothers me is that they were doing that in a way that made me seem responsible for doing something I shouldn’t, when I was going out of my way on their behalf. At church.
The lesson I’m teaching my class this week has a lot to do with the Our Father, and it was at church yesterday that I kept thinking “‘as we forgive those who trespass against us…’ let it go— that’s the part you’re not letting go, and it’s a big deal.” I’m still trying to let it go. I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I’m working on it.
What do you do when someone turns something around on you?