Monday, August 15, 2011

I Joined a Book Club and All I Got Was Drama, Part II

(Be sure to read Part I before continuing to read here.)

Already on the phone, she had hemmed and hawed about my "price" for computer tutoring, to the point where I said, "I don't care, bake me a pie, bartering works for me." Lady, don't say you don't know where to set a price, then make me give you an idea (what I earned as a tutor at school), and then start babbling as if I'd asked for a million bucks.

It was all for naught, anyway, because I realized two things: One, I'd skipped over this version of Office as I went from job to job; two, Jolene's idea of "helping her with her computer" and my idea did not quite match.

Me: So if you want to clean up your mailbox, just go to "Tools" in the menu bar and-
Jolene: [shaking her head and throwing up her hands] Wait, wait, wait!
Me: ?
Jolene: You have to give me more time. I'm not getting it. [sighs, keeps shaking her head and cringing]
Me: ? [to myself: Um, should I not have assumed she has a basic understanding of the program she uses to get her e-mail every single day?]

And that was red flag #2, after she had taken issue with my use of the word "purge" with respect to cleaning up old e-mail. I'll let you guess what got overshared there. (Sometimes, I really wish my embarrassment would make me run rather than stay.)

I think she really had no intention of learning any more about the program, and wanted me to "fix" whatever was bothering her and set things up the way she wanted them. I wish she had spelled that out from the beginning, but then again, I never would have said yes, would I?

Then there was a whole e-mail archiving fiasco because, as I tried to tell her, I was not really familiar with this version of Office. We ran a search for e-mail more than about six months old, her choosing, not mine. I could see from the location labels that the majority were actually in her Deleted Items file, but apparently the file had never been emptied. EVER. Due to some bug in the system, our attempt to move all the old e-mail into a newly created folder wound up placing them all as attachments in a new e-mail. I still have no idea why, but stupid me canceled the e-mail with what I thought were copy attachments. . .

They weren't, according to every forum I searched. Oooops. And while I struggled to get them back, Jolene was making smoothies in a blender and of course offering some to me. When I asked if there was dairy in it, she snorted a laugh. That pissed me off, frankly. Then came the question that always annoys me: "Oh, are you lactose intolerant, too?" "No, I'm actually allergic," I responded. She assures me it's "just strawberries." Still, I politely declined, saying I just had lunch at Mom and Dad's and water is fine. She sets a glass down next to me, anyway. It's pink with flecks of green in it. Again, being polite and going against my better judgment, I took a sip. Between my mixed feelings about strawberries and both the texture and the taste of the green bits, one sip was more than enough.

At that point, I was ready to go home, or at least back to my parents'.  I decided to try the honest route, secretly hoping it would enrage her that I'd lost all those e-mails and she'd show me the door.

"Well, can you call Microsoft?" she demanded, somewhat naively. I did not think so, but I had to make a show of actually doing it while she sat outside eating her lunch. I was starting to get a headache, and I thought it was from stress and frustration. When she came back in, she asked me if I'd tried the smoothie, and I told her I'd taken a sip but it really wasn't for me. That's when she told me she put parsley and protein powder in it. The minute she said "protein powder" my heart sank, because there are a lot of protein powders out there sans lactose but still containing milk. Ugh. My headache sharpened, and I still had no answer Jolene would accept that would make her release me.

Next, I had to call the nice computer guy at the place where I had taken my defunct laptop the day before--he looked up the same answers I did. Then, Jolene put me on the phone with her son, who lives in another part of the state and probably picked up his work phone only because his grandma was in the hospital. Other than a shared laugh at his crack that "those e-mails probably needed to 'go to God' ages ago," we still came up with nothing.

So at last, she accepted that the e-mails were gone, but she still wouldn't let me go. I was feeling awful--in retrospect, I realize it was an allergic reaction--but in the moment all I knew was that I couldn't stop feeling bad and I wanted to cry. And that's when Jolene got under my skin and made some comment about my summer, and I was like, "Everything's wrong, my cat's sick, I've put on grief weight, and I have a million things to do before school starts."

While I might have been mad at myself for letting that slip out, I was even madder when she responded, "You sound depressed." I hate sidewalk psychiatry. It always seems as if people who have been through whatever feel they have ability to see the same things wrong with other people, when in truth a lot of times it's just imposition in the attempt to have something in common and be friends. It's the companion to oversharing.

Somehow, I was able to start the discussion about my departure. I started to tell her that I was willing to waive my fee for the day because I'd made the mistake. . . and then she interrupts me, saying that I really didn't tutor her anyway and that she expected to have some real tutoring next time. At which point I underscored my ineligibility to tutor her, because I did not know enough about the applications, but she just brushed that aside oddly by saying that the only other tutor she had found who could do it was charging $60. (She didn't even want to pay me half that!) With even more frustration making my head boil, I managed to wrap up the conversation by telling her just to call me if she wanted to set anything else up. (I figured that gave her time to get distracted and forget.)

I left the house, but not before helping her push the leaves in her dining room table back in place. As soon as I got back to my parents', I grabbed two aspirin and some iced tea. I spared my mom most of the details, but I said, "Never again." I wound up going home for some antihistamines and sleeping for an hour to shake off the headache and whatever else had hit me.

Friday, an e-mail shows up from her. She wants to drop off a check but doesn't know my address.

First reaction: What!?
Second reaction: No!!!

The remainder of the e-mail is thanking me for being so "open" and she wants to help with my "big D." The only "D" I mentioned was "Diverticulitis" but I'm afraid she means "Depression." There's a doc attached to the e-mail and it's labeled her "story," which I'm guessing she uh, shares in order to sell her supplements.

You hear that sucking noise?

I'm running the other way.

I responded by saying that no payment was necessary. I did not say anything else. I haven't gotten a response yet. I'm almost hoping to keep her at bay via e-mail. But if she shows up at the next book club meeting, I'm trapped.

Or maybe Leona will create a diversion.

No comments: