Miss Manners: Rebuked via email for lack of visiting time
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my friends came to visit over a holiday weekend. She lives across the country, so we’ve mainly kept in touch through email since high school (we are now in our late 20s).
She had plans to see a sports game and go on a bar crawl with several other friends in the city. She did invite me to meet up with the group, but I had to work and I don’t drink. We did meet for lunch, though.
I thought we had a nice visit – until yesterday, when I received an email from her saying she was very disappointed about our last visit because one of her other friends spent two days with her and I had only met her for lunch. She’s also displeased that I haven’t made it across the country to visit her.
I work in a hospital, which means 12-hour shifts on weekends and holidays. I have also been in school. I explained that I had to work on a few of the days she would be here (it’s very difficult to get time off), but I thought a lunch between her planned activities would be nice. Obviously, this was not enough, because she is now saying she doesn’t think it’s worth it to just keep in touch via email.
I would like your advice on how to respond to this, and if you think the friendship is worth trying to salvage.
GENTLE READER: A charitable way to look at your friend’s critique is that she misses you, made a great effort to see you and is hoping that you will return the visit so that you can spend some time with her when you are undistracted by work obligations.
Another way to read it is that she dismisses your obligations as unimportant and had refused to heed your warning about them before she made the trip.
It would depend on the tone of the letter, which Miss Manners has not seen. Where was it on the scale between cajoling and scolding?
In either case, you would have to decide whether you want a petulant friend. If you don’t, you need not respond. But if you do, your answer should be, “I, too, would like to spend more time together. But as I explained, I don’t always have that choice.”