I have a “friend” who only calls when she needs something. She never calls to just say hello or to check up on me or the family. I have known her for about a year and a half. I offered to help her fill out some paperwork for immigration because her English is not very good and my Arabic is nearly fluent. She came back the following week and asked me to help her at her bank. She had an account at one of those Mega-Banks that was overcharging her for everything. A teller also printed up and gave her a copy of another customer’s account by mistake. I interpreted for her when she explained to the bank manager that this was a huge problem, both for her and for the other customer whose privacy was violated. She withdrew her money and closed the account. I drove her to my credit union and interpreted for her while she opened her account there.
And so it went. Her child’s medical insurance was in need of updating so she called me three months later for help. Another month went by and she called for help filling out visa information for her husband to join her here from overseas. I didn’t hear from her again until April of this year, when the person who did her taxes inflated the numbers and the IRS contacted her for verification of income. This time I drove her to the IRS and sat in the waiting room with her for over 6 hours. They gave her a form to file a correction. We then met the next day while I re-figured her taxes properly and filled out all of the forms. Of course, she was at work and I just mailed the forms after she signed them and provided her with the copies.
We invited her to our oldest son’s graduation. She never responded, showed up or even acknowledged his graduation. We invited her and her daughter to a religious celebration (Eid al-Fitr, following Ramadan) and they did not come or call. In fact, she did not contact us again until she needed to fill out an application for a passport in order that she and her daughter could visit her husband who is still awaiting his visa. I helped her with the form which required a trip to the library in order to print all of the documents for a visa application that I wasn’t even told about until after I had completed the passport forms. My printer was on the fritz. It still is.
Anyway, I didn’t hear from her again until yesterday, a month after the last time, she called and I didn’t hear the phone ring. My son brought me the cell phone and told me who’d called. I just erased the voice mail as I am tired and busy with a life of my own. My husband came home and said that she’d asked if I could help her print out her eTicket and he told her to go do it at the library.
I know that she was using me from the start. I guess what kept me helping was that I remember being alone with my children in a foreign country and how difficult it was not knowing how or where to do things and having to figure it out on my own. I suppose I was just trying to pay it forward and help her to not have to go through that frustration. I also believe that whatever help I provide others is a blessing to me and not just them. But last night, I decided that I didn’t want anymore blessings through her. I cut the string and walked away.
And look. The sun came out today and I’m still blessed.