Last week, I had to visit downtown Toronto to run a few errands. I have a musician friend who lives in the city. I still like hanging out with him, sometimes.
I hadn’t seen him since he spent a month in China in August. Plus, he just had his 40th birthday, so I had a little gift for him. I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.
As soon as I got off the GO train at Toronto’s Union Station, I whipped out my cell phone and gave him a quick call. Sure, I was giving him little notice of my visit, but I know his daily routine pretty well, from the year I spent dating him.
On a weekday, he’s usually at home, or in his neighborhood until well into the afternoon, when he starts teaching bass guitar in a local music store. Usually, on a weekday morning, he’s easy to find.
“Hey, I’m in Toronto today, running a few errands,” I said, “I have a birthday gift for you, would you like me to drop by your apartment?”
“I’ve got a few things I got to do,” he replied, “but I can probably see you a little later.”
“When?” This man often will NEVER volunteer information, especially very useful information. I’ve got to poke and prod to get details out of him. He can be so frustrating, sometimes.
“I’m meeting someone today, I might be home by 2:00pm,”
“So, I’ll be over your place by 2, then,”
“No! Ummm… I might not be home,”
“So, when should I visit you, 2:30pm? Three o’clock?”
“Just give me the time I should visit! Damn you!”
“I might be home by 2:30pm, or 3:00pm,”
“Just tell me the time!”
“I should probably be home at 3:00pm,”
“Finally, a straight answer from you! See you soon!”
It’s this kind of stuff that made it a pain in the ass to date him. We speak two different languages.
My language is like computer programming code. Every detail must be clearly defined. When I say ‘yes’, I am 100% committed to my affirmation. When I say ‘no’, there’s no changing my mind. I never say ‘maybe’. ‘Maybe’ is for wimps.
Cops would love me as a crime witness. I would describe every single detail of the suspect’s appearance, from the brand name on the earpiece of his sunglasses, to his exact waist measurement, right down to the color of his shoelaces.
My former lover, current friend speaks a very different dialect. His ‘tomorrow’ means sometime in the next six months. His ‘blue’ means some shade between indigo and aquamarine. His ‘yes’ means there’s a 30% chance he’ll do it, as long as he’s in the right mood. His ‘no’ means there’s a 10% chance he’ll do it, if you’re able to get him in the right mood. Don’t get me started on his ‘maybe!’ He probably says ‘maybe’ thousands of times per day. His new CD should be titled ‘Maybe’!
One of the central characteristics of my personality is that I can be blindly optimistic if I want something. So, I forget that his words should be interpreted with scepticism. I hear his ‘I’ll be home by 3:00pm,’ as ‘meet me at 3:00pm’.
After running around King Street West for a few hours, I took the subway and bus to his apartment. I waited until about ten after three. Feeling agitated, I pulled out my cell phone.
Surely enough, there was a text message from him. He sent it shortly after 2. ‘I can’t get home before I have to go to the music store to teach. See you later.’
My trip to Toronto wasn’t totally wasted. I had matters to take care of. But I’m a nice young lady, and I didn’t forget his 40th birthday. He gave me the impression that I could drop by and give him his gift before I had to catch the GO train back home to Hamilton. He DID make me waste a lot of time, though. That couple of hours I spent going out of my way to do something nice for him could have been spent at a book store, or a nice cafe. I could’ve had some fun before I had to go home.
Readers, please make sure you communicate clearly with the people in your life.
A lot of people hate saying ‘no’, but an honest ‘no’ is much kinder than a dishonest or uncertain ‘yes’.
My musician buddy is far from the only person in the world who misleads people by being vague.
When Japan opened up to foreign trade in the 1800s, many westerners were eager to do business with the Japanese.
Japanese businessmen would conclude a meeting by saying ‘yes’ to the western businessmen.
In the West, ‘yes’ means yes! Excluding a few people I know, obviously.
In Japan, ‘yes’ means, ‘I acknowledge what you said. Thank you for saying it.’ It’s considered very rude to say a direct ‘no’.
A lot of early business deals in Japan weren’t deals at all, much to the frustration of the gaijin. Americans and Europeans had to learn more about Japanese etiquette.
Well, friend, if you are reading this: I am Europe, you are Japan. Do me a favor and speak to me in my language.
Readers, please say what you mean and do what you say. Talk the talk, then walk the walk. A lot of people will thank you for being direct and honest.