Flakiness. Aloofness. Lack of consideration. Combine them and what do you have? A recipe that is almost guaranteed to give me a rage stroke.
I know people are busy. I know things come up. I know the entire world doesn’t revolve around me and my plans. But I firmly believe there is a right way to flake out on someone – infrequently, proactively, with enough advance warning that the flake victim can salvage the time, and ideally through a phone call that provides a proper degree of contrition. Obviously, these can’t always be fully attained, but short of being trapped under some heavy, immovable object, it’s not that hard to come pretty close.
Which is why it is so irritating and disrespectful when people flake incorrectly.
A few days ago, I was quietly and respectfully (i.e. loudly and rantily) speaking to someone about this social phenomenon. Somehow the discussion evolved into a contest about who had experienced the most absurd flake. He won the battle — I’m sad to say, I couldn’t top the text message cancellation he received half an hour before a Third Eye Blind concert offering: “Sorry, I can’t make it. I forgot I need to bandage my hamster’s leg.”
But in an effort to win the war, this morning I took a 90% amusing, 10% infuriating trip down memory lane to resurrect a few favorite personal examples of inappropriate flaking:
- Via e-mail, at 9:45 am before a 10 am team meeting: “I can’t make it. I need to finish knitting this doggie sweater by 10:30.” This one was irritating on multiple levels: you all know how I feel about dog fashions, especially knits.
- Via text, while I was waiting for a gentleman at a bar: “I ordered the Famous Chicken and it takes an hour to cook. I’ll just see you tomorrow.” Note: I did not see him tomorrow. Or ever again. And just how famous can any one chicken really be?!?
- Via e-mail, ten minutes before a Boot Camp exercise class a friend had committed to attending with me: “Ate too much ice cream. Count me out.”
- Via text, fifteen minutes before a mutual friend’s surprise birthday dinner: “Got sucked into a Hoarders marathon. Have fun!” (Funny, but now that I think of it, I never saw THAT person again either.)
- Sent via text, about Valentine’s Day dinner. “Oh, that’s tonight? I’m still in San Mateo.” Stand back, ladies, this one’s mine.
I am increasingly uncomfortable with my own escalating flakiness, especially since I understand just how obnoxious it can be and how little effort it takes to be base-level considerate. It’s something I am really trying to focus on (hence a 2012 resolution to return phone calls, to be on time, to not cancel anything I commit to, etc.). Of course, my quest for personal betterment has only made me more sensitive to the overt expression of aloof, flaky alleles in other people’s genetic makeups…and it boggles my mind how often I see it happen.
Aloof flakers everywhere… you are Meccanized.