During my trip to the Philippines last January 2004, I made sure that I met up with a group of close girlfriends whom I haven't seen in seven years. One night we had dinner in Greenbelt, a happening area in the business district of Makati. I've forgotten the name of the restaurant and don't remember how the food was, but I remember loving the company and having a great time.
I met these girlfriends in a software house I worked at in the 90's. These six girls and I just clicked so well, pretty soon we were doing everything together. Those times were very happy for me. We dined, shopped, saw movies, gossiped, swapped secrets, chatted, chatted and chatted. As all good times, those started to end as we grew older and moved on with our lives. One by one, we started leaving our beloved KPMG-Peat Marwick Consulting Inc. to look for greener pastures. Our bond remained tight, except maybe for one girl who moved out of the country and stopped communicating with us. Three more, including me, would eventually move to another country as well, but the six of us remained in touch, mostly through email.
During the dinner that balmy January evening, one of the girls mentioned that the girl who has drifted away from us was in town and suggested she call her. We all laughed because her being distant has become an inside joke within our group and we never expected to contact her, let alone convince her to come. My friend did call her and told her I was in town, and lo and behold, she asked us to wait for she was in the area and will join us shortly. The girls now tease that it only takes me to make her resurface again in our world! I just laughed but was truly flattered and excited to see her. She did arrive and we had more fun, if that was possible. After dinner, we hit a few more places to have drinks, and at the end of the night, my re-found friend was clinging to me the whole time and wanting to know when we'll see each other again.
The night before I left, my re-found friend asked if she could see me before I left because she has a present for me. I told her that some friends from another place I used to work at were planning to take me out to dinner and drinks but she was welcome to join us. She did take me up on this offer and showed up at my mini-party, staying until the very end. I was really touched by this gesture, albeit a little surprised because she was closer to another girl than to me. "It's because you've been out of the country and she hasn't seen you in a long time," I just tell myself.
When I got back here, she will send me text messages of greetings and jokes. I asked my other girlfriend, the one whom she was really close to back then, if she was regularly contacting with them too. They said she wasn't and were surprised when I told them about her visit during my last night in Manila. In fact she has "disappeared" again from their world after I left town. I still felt touched that she would remember me constantly and take the effort to send messages.
About two weeks after I got back from my trip, she called on my cellphone while I was driving home. She sounded so chirpy and asked how her best friend was. I was happy to hear from her and asked her how she was in return. After some small talk, she said that it was the most difficult thing for her to call me because she needs my help and is too embarrassed to ask. She then proceeds to tell me how she and her husband have been having financial woes due to a loan made to her sister, and then asks if I could lend her some money. I asked her how much and she mentioned a very high figure, even in U.S. dollars. I said I'll see what I can do and will call her back. She profusely thanked me and went on to gush about how big a lifesaver I am. I said I haven't lent her any money, so don't thank me yet.
When I hung up, I got so chilly inside I could barely concentrate on my driving. As much as I'd like to give her the benefit of the doubt, I can't help but feel so used. It started to make sense - her extraordinary sweetness and thoughtfulness were a ruse because she needed something from me. When I got home I consulted my husband on what I should do. He asked if I honestly believed this girl can pay me back, as he reminded me that I have outstanding loans to two other friends who have failed to pay me back. I replied I didn't think so because her sister was scammed by a pyramid scheme that has victimized a lot of people in the Philippines, but I started realizing that wasn't even the point. She lifted me high up with her friendship, only to be brought down hard by the realization that it's all a pretense. Even if I could afford to lend her the money, I sent her a text message that night extending my apologies for I could not provide the loan. With a heavy heart, I decided that that would be the last time I would contact her.
Have you ever been seriously disappointed by a friend?