Hot Potatoes

After a painfully enduring two-hour train ride today which had no air-conditioning and after dealing with the immense, unnecessary British heat this past month it’s no wonder people are actually going mental. On hot days, I would say the number of people driving like idiots rises immensely.

I reserved seats on my train – power socket, table seat, window, quiet zone. Instead I got – standing room next to a fucking generator, sitting on the floor next to pale, hairy legs and a cramped seat surrounded by sweaty people. But sitting there, being so warm and sweaty that my packet of minstrels were sweating (minstrels are chocolate candy shell disc things) I thought, it’s not really for me to complain, right? Heck, I’ve gone on holiday when it feels like this all the time, and the only relief you get is shade and an ice-cold drink in an air-conditioned apartment or café.

But actually, hang on a minute. Where in a developed and fairly wealthy country is it acceptable to leave a hundred or so people gasping for fresh, cool air in a sweat box tin traveling across the country at high speeds? Dry heat, yes, I can handle that – I survived 45 degrees (Celsius) in Oz way-back-when. But as Monica famously said on that friends episode “It’s the humidity!”

Humidity causes a lot a problems. It’s not just that old “sticky heat” phrase, humidity is the air containing too much moisture. Too much moisture in the air can cause tiredness, weakness and nausea. It can make you feel like you can’t breathe, think or sleep properly.

The common misconception with heatwaves are that people think when it rains, this will cool the air…when in actual fact, it just adds more moisture to the air. On another bizarre, but not illogical scale, people think that when it rains, the temperature is lower thus causing them to don jackets, hoodies and coats and some people even go further and crank up heating.

So with this in mind, I think complaining about no air conditioning on a hot train is practical. It’s not right that this kind of intense warmth causes sweat to form on your elbows and shoulders, that actual beads of sweat form on your skin, that you get immensely tired when you do find relief from it, that it makes chocolate not only melt, but candy-shells to sweat too. That hard Jelly Tots turn soft, that my blood-sugar, whilst perfectly normal upon entering the train, dropped dramatically and within a few minutes of sitting in the heat.

Anyway, I didn’t come here to talk about the heat, it only got me thinking that had I been in a country I know didn’t offer me air conditioning or I knew was really hot, I wouldn’t be bothered as much. But it’s my expectations of a service that have not been met, and my initial point I want to make is that these expectations we hold for services often transfer over to people, too.

I was recently discussing with my friend about a situation we’ve both had that were pretty similar – that we’ve both had a friend that has dropped us, like a hot potato. For whatever reason, that doesn’t matter. What concerned me is the suddenness of it all – how quickly someone you’ve known for a long time is willing to just cut you out of their life, with no warning, no explanation and no closure.

I can say for myself, that my situation has come about because of assumptions. People who don’t know me very well, i.e. what I am like when I get angry or annoyed or upset – build up this impression of who I am in their head. And this goes for many people. Others see you as a jigsaw puzzle, and rather that they find things out about you that helps to complete the puzzle, they assume, based on a set of pre-determined conditions (i.e that you swear on a blog), that you are this particular whole person. But this is fabricated and nearly always wrong.

It is people’s expectations of a friend, or someone they think they know being debunked by the things you do or say that make people stop talking to you, or the reason they treat you differently, or the reason they stop being your friend. I didn’t think so-and-so was like that – surely a phrase that should only be used when someone you think is a nice person does something really horrid, like cheat or lie or steal or murder.

But my friend and myself have done none of these things. We’ve simply not met our ex-friends expectations. The thing that surprises me are people’s unwillingness to take these new traits or bits of information and adapt to them – that it adds something to the friendship, rather than subtracting from it. The only real reason people drop you like a hot potato is because they have been surprised by your behaviour – however normal and ordinary – and they do not favour it.

Many people dislike change and discomfort. They dislike things which pull away from their routine, something which upsets the balance, the balance between rationalising situations and people in them. People, however different some maybe from others, seem to share familiarity in conflict – on the train, strangers happily talked and complained about the heat. Had they been comfortable, I doubt any of them would have talked to their neighbour. People seem to want to only share what they do not want to handle on their own – they want to pass on the discomfort. And so their happiness, there normality is held close to them, for only them and the people they know and trust to share with, and not random strangers.

How is it then, that 64 random strangers can follow my blog without pre-determined conceptions (and not voice them) and yet someone, who is supposed to be my friend, my confidant, my sister, cannot put these unexpected elements of my personality aside and see me for who she knows I am?

The thing which seems so illogical to me is the explanation. If my friend and I had been offensive in some way to our ex-friends, had done something bad to them, had for any reason upset them in someway whether or not our reasons are valid and moral, friendship that has lasted for over 20 years needs allowed an explanation, an acknowledgement, even if the outcome is horrible.

To not say or do anything which closes the friendship is worse than losing the friendship itself. It’s an open wound, filling everyday with salt of the past and despite who is in the wrong in any given situation, the wronged or the perpetrator both deserve closure.

We, and many like us in similar situations deserve to know why we no longer serve the purpose of being your long-term, good friend. That after years of friendship, of looking out for each other, one tiny insignificant change in a person can cut the friendship in half.

But you know what? People change and people grow. You grow with them, or you grow apart from them.

People very rarely live up to your expectations, because they are neither logical or true. They are pieces of the puzzle skewed by social media, like Facebook and Twitter. Internet writing, like blogs and articles skews them. Skewed by people assuming you will live up to who they expect you to be. Your personality is more than the internet portrays you as, and more than who people think you are.

People really just see what they want to see. They see all the things they didn’t know about you and focus on that. But that is not who you are. You are ordinary and unique, predictable and surprising, and people change, for good or bad. But even so, the bad still deserve to know, just what kind of bad makes them dislike you.




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