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When a friend started seeing me as an ATM

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I feel rather down lately over the actions of a certain friend. I’ve known her since childhood, but over the years, we lost touch with each other. In the summer just before attending our last year in high school, her mother brought her to the province. I had looked her up in various social media sites, even googled her, several times and also asked a couple of her relatives for her contact information, but I had no success.

Finally, in August 2014, I heard from her again. I was so happy that I immediately arranged for our meeting, even if we had already done enough catching up online through Facebook. After all, we used to be very close. She’s funny, sweet, and sensitive, and I’ve always considered her as one of my best buddies. Moreover, when she told me that she had come to know Christ when she was staying in the province, I rejoiced and became more excited to see her again.

When the day of our reunion came, I made sure that I left the house early so I wouldn’t be late. We agreed to meet halfway, at a certain mall that we’re both familiar with. I decided to window shop while waiting for her. However, after nearly two hours of waiting and walking around, I was famished and started getting cranky.

I had planned on treating her for lunch, since I was the one who insisted on our meeting. But what I had imagined to be a very fun get together between two long lost friends over pizza just went poof! Slowly, I accepted the fact that I would be dining alone, so I started looking for a place that would help improve my mood – something cozy, not crowded, and offers delectable sweets. I went to Mary Grace Café. As I started eating, I realized that it might not be long before she arrived; after all, more than two hours had already passed. Part of me wanted her to see what she had missed–good food and bonding time–so I tried to eat slowly. Although maybe she didn’t really care about spending time with me, even after all those years that we had not seen or heard from each other?

True enough, I was nearly done with my cake when she arrived. I tried to stay angry but I couldn’t and I felt ashamed for trying to get back at her. Maybe she had a good reason for being late? Well, apparently she didn’t, and she kept apologizing. I really missed my friend though and in the end, I was just glad to see her again. I did tell her, however, how disappointed I was with her that she was late, and told her to order food for herself, but explained that I couldn’t stay because I had to be home before my children’s school bus dropped them off.

Now, here’s the thing: a couple of days before our supposed meeting, my dear friend called me up to ask if she could borrow some money from me. She said she’s really embarrassed about it–and she seemed so–but she had no one else to turn to and she promised to return the money after a couple of weeks. I was surprised, but I agreed. I offered to lend her a smaller amount though, one that I was comfortable to part with, and she took it.

Just as she had promised, she contacted me after two weeks to pay me back. I invited her instead to our family reunion at my parents’ house, in the neighborhood where we first met and became friends. We still didn’t get to really talk, however, since my brothers and I were busy preparing the food. After dinner, we promised to keep in touch. We probably chatted on Facebook only once since then, though she sent me quotations with images on friendship and blessings once or twice, before everything became silent again between us. Too silent, in fact, that when my father died last July, she never came to the wake and I didn’t hear from her either.

After many months of silence, out of the blue, she called me up to ask how I was, and then shared the news that she’s bound for Italy in December for some distributors’ training.  She was speaking fast, and I wasn’t sure why she was telling me those things. Nevertheless, I felt happy for her; I knew that she had been planning for years to go to Europe like some of her relatives. Now, not only would she finally be able to do that, but do it for free as well.

And just like her sudden re-appearance, she asked me if I had already bought a car. I was taken aback by her question; I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going. I said I’m still commuting, and we have no plans of buying a car this year; my family and I were going to travel to several countries for vacation, so we won’t have extra money (again) to buy a car.

Finally, she dropped the bomb. She asked me to lend her some money again, only this time, it’s a much bigger amount. She sounded impatient as she told me that she really needed the money right at that moment, promising to return it after two weeks. I was shocked by what she was saying and by the tone she used. When I regained my composure, I said I have the amount she needed, but I could not possibly lend it to her. This time, I no longer offered to lend her a smaller amount.

As much as I wanted to spite her, I talked to her as nicely as I could. I explained that I still had to book a hotel for our upcoming weekend getaway, and because I was after the early bird promo, plus my eldest daughter’s celebrating her birthday the following day, I couldn’t lend her anything at that moment. She would have to wait if there would be any leftover, which I doubt. I tried to go for a graceful exit by telling her that I had to get off the phone because my youngest daughter was about to get home, and I was just out taking a break at McDonald’s between errands. I asked her to call again if she’s still available after 15 minutes, so we could chat about other things. She agreed, but made me promise to call her right away and send her the money if there’s any left after I have booked a hotel room.

Well, she didn’t call again. After a couple of days, I saw a missed call from her on Facebook. It registered in the morning of the same day we last talked on the phone. Apparently, she had been trying to reach me through Facebook and even left a message for me there, also asking if she could borrow some money. Only, the reason she gave me on Facebook was different from the ones she gave me while we were talking over the phone.

I became upset. After I have calmed down, I responded to her message. Once more, I told her that I couldn’t lend her the money she was asking for, and invited her to accompany me to check out some insurance companies and apply as a financial adviser, so we could both earn extra income and get a discount on our own insurance policies, too. She responded after a day, promising to think about it, but has not contacted me again so far.

I’m not sure what happened, really… to her, to our friendship, or to me. When did I stop being a friend and started being an ATM to her? I didn’t win any lottery or have high-earning business enterprises, etc. that one would have the impression that I’m rolling on dough. I may be an OFW dependent and my husband could afford to shoulder all our family’s expenses without me having to go to work, but she happens to be an OFW dependent too. In fact, there’s more than one OFW in their family supporting her and they’re all in Europe. She may be a single parent, but so am I in a way, since my children and I live away from my husband. At least she has her mom to look after her kids in the province while she stays in Manila; whereas, I am an orphan and I don’t have a nanny to look after my  kids (not that I’m complaining about being a full-time homemaker without a helper).

I don’t know if I’ll ever hear from her again, but something tells me that if I do, it must be because she has to borrow some money again. I prefer that she calls me to sell me something or recruit me to some MLM or insurance company. That’s perfectly okay with me, I’m open-minded when it comes to those things, really. It’s called livelihood, after all, and we all just have to give each other a chance to earn money decently.

I guess I’m just sad now that I seem to be losing a friend. I have found her only to find out that the friendship could go no further this time. Unless, of course, something in her would realize that what I am offering is friendship, genuine friendship, and not money. I hope the next time I see her or hear from her again, it was because she genuinely wanted to get in touch and see how I were doing and not for money.

Care to share your thoughts on this? :)

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