The Frustrating Actions of Others
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fragility of human relationships and how they can exist one moment and not the next – a little like life itself. In this context, I endured an event that eventually made me question every interaction I’ve ever had with another person.
Years ago, when I waitressed at the country club, I met a girl who was six or seven years younger than I. Despite our age difference, we became instant friends, and I took great comfort from our relationship during those long and hard hours of taking orders and serving food. Eventually, she quit to attend cosmetology school, and we lost touch over time. But I never forgot her or the way she made me laugh when I was having a rough day.
Fast-forward to today, four years later, when lo and behold, I run into this old friend (we’ll call her Maggie). She cuts hair now in a local shop, so I instantly scheduled an appointment with her for two days later. While she cut my hair, I gave her the condensed version of my life’s events since we'd last spoken, and she did the same. I left feeling good that I had begun to regain the friend who had once been so important to me.
But, despite my happiness, I sensed a change in Maggie. She’s been through a lot, even more than I have, including spending nights in her car when she was homeless, severing all ties with her mother, and being court-ordered to attend anger management classes. Clearly, this was not the same girl I had worked with at the club.
Still, she made me laugh. And when she called me to let me know she had switched salons, our conversation shifted to a number of different topics - we’ve always had good chemistry this way. Everything was going fine until she casually mentioned she thought my boyfriend was actually dating a cosmetologist from the salon she had just quit. In that moment, I felt the floor spin beneath me. I had to sit silently for several moments before speaking again. But I couldn’t control the tremble in my voice, which she heard, when I asked what had made her think that.
Maggie proceeded to tell me that they go to lunch together every day and have been out together at night. She said that she'd seen them together with her own two eyes and that she wanted to let me know herself. I hung up the phone and immediately called my boyfriend, with whom I argued for hours. After he vehemently denied ever even having lunch with this salon worker, much less dating her, we broke up.
The stress of the situation was more enormous than I can write.
Who to Believe?
After a great deal of arguing, tears, and misunderstanding, I finally confronted the salon worker herself. I needed to know the truth. And she, too, denied having anything other than a friendship with my boyfriend. Then she proceeded to tell me that Maggie hates her (which I already knew) and is trying to damage her reputation. She also informed me that Maggie has a drug problem (I deduced this from what Maggie had told me while cutting my hair) and is trying to steal her hair clients (I figured that).
Then she said something I didn’t know, something I never would have guessed but that helped cement a new image of Maggie in my mind. She apparently didn’t quit her job, but was fired. The firing resulted for a number of reasons, not the least of which was Maggie’s stealing from the salon. She also argued with other employees and disobeyed the rules.
By the time I hung up the phone, all I could think was this: If Maggie could lie to me about how she left her job (she had said she quit), she could lie to me about other things, too. Including my boyfriend.