I’m a terrible friend.
I was angry and annoyed, and I said something I shouldn’t have.
Do I regret what I did? A little.
Would I do it all over again? Maybe not.
Did I do the right thing? Yeah. I think I did…
You were my best friend. We’d have dinner. Well, that is, I would have dinner while you drank, but semantics, really.
You would call me at all hours of the night to chat. Drunk or getting there, and we would talk for hours still. Never mind how many times I said, “Well, I should be going to bed.”
You wanted to protect me and hold me when I was down. I would do the same for you.
You were my mentor and lead in our department at work. As such, you were entrusted with payroll and accounts payable to assist the lead accountant, and due to my tensure there, I was spending even more time with you learning all of these important roles. Our chats meant so much to me, but also, developing new skills did too. Some day I could be lead accountant, maybe.
You had a rough few years, though. You nearly lost the tip of your finger in an freak accident at work. You had been brutally beaten by a would-be rapist in your own home. You hadn’t been able to have a real relationship in years, with your best prospect married and not homosexual. And the biggest blow of them all: your best friend was now almost half your age.
You self-medicated, though, and the medication of choice was alcohol. As an old bartender, you knew all the coolest drinks, and drank them all with a certain 80s-style class.
For months, I would call you on Monday morning. It was payroll day, and you were due in to work at 7am every week. Our new boss did not appreciate tardiness. I would spend so much of my morning trying to wake you. I called four or five times and screamed into the answering machine, and with each ring, my heart would wear away. What if today was the day you didn’t wake up? What if you had passed away during the night? What if you were late again?
You were late. Almost every day, though. And on more than one occasion, you said you had always struggled with being on time. Since you were in high school, even. But I never understood this. If you’re always late, then why not leave earlier? Wake up earlier? As a perpetual early person, I did not appreciate this lack of responsibility for your actions. You were in your forties and hadn’t figured out a way to be on time?
I joked sometimes that I was the older one of the two of us.
So that Monday, I didn’t call. I was in such a hurry myself to get out the door, that I forgot.
7am, and you’re not there. I start work on the payroll for you. You’ll show at any time, I’m sure.
8am. Not there. By now, everyone is trying to call you. Except for me. I’m trying my hardest to cover for you.
9, 10. Still not there. I start my normal shift. I’m both angry and scared something has happened. The bosses send someone to your house.
You were asleep. You didn’t hear the phones ring. You were so sorry you missed the shift. You would make it up by finishing mine.
11am, you arrive, but by then, the boss has talked to me. She is interested in my opinion on the matter, and I confess to her, “If I were her manager, I’d have already fired her.” I didn’t know she was looking for my blessing. She had already made up her mind, I assumed. It wasn’t like it was a once off event. It happened enough that the company had adequate records of it. So when you came in, she sat you down and told you those two little words.
I did that to you, but also, you did that to yourself.
We remained friends. I never told you the hand I had played in your dismissal. But I’m pretty sure it would have happened eventually anyway.
You drank the rest of the day, and when I was finished work, I joined you.
Well, I ate while you drank, but semantics, right?
Do I regret what I did? Hell yeah, I do. You never quite got back on your feet after that. You didn’t find a job, and a part of that was on me.
Would I do it all over again? Maybe not…
Did I do the right thing? I sure as hell hope I did.