Today is Friendship Day, which takes place on the first Sunday of August each year, so I’d like to take a moment to share a story about what I’ve learned this last week about friendship and why – at thirtysomething – I’m just now figuring it all out.
If you’re a regular to my blog, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that I spent last weekend in Chicago for the annual BlogHer conference. I drove out to Denver to pick up Sugar Jones and from there we hauled serious ass getting to Chicago early on the 23rd.
The hotel room at the Sheraton was under my roommate’s name, but since I got to Chicago before her, I was able to check in but only by providing them with a credit card. Which. I. Do. Not. Have.
I had mentioned to my rommate, before leaving for Chicago, that I had cash to give her since the room was going to be charged to her credit card, but when I checked in, I gave them my debit card, from the checking account which had just enough money for gas and food for our trip home.
My roommate arrived once the parties were already in full swing. I had already stopped downstairs at the Social Lux party, made a new friend, tried to crash the Obama event, and was in the lobby for the Room 704 party when my roommate found me and asked for the room key. This is when I told her that I had checked in and asked her to stop by the front desk to give them her credit card.
We had different schedules throughout the weekend and, because she was pregnant and woke up with a migraine one morning, I was trying to be especially kind and stayed out of her way. I gave her the cash for my half of the room on Saturday – assuming – of course, that she had gone down to the front desk at some point over the weekend to provide them with her credit card for the room charges.
Saturday night (BowlHer) she called me and asked me if it was OK if a friend of hers spent the night in our room since they were on the same flight the following day. They had to be at the airport early and since her friend was staying at another hotel, she wanted to save money by having her stay with us so that they could avoid the extra taxi fare in the morning.
I’m too kind (or stupid), because instead of asking for money for the extra body in our room, I simply gave up my room that night. I ended up staying with my new friend and yes, perhaps was a little selfish since I spent the night away so I wouldn’t be woken up by the two of them packing and getting ready to leave in the morning.
Because I didn’t stay in my room, I wasn’t able to charge my phone and the battery died some time in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I charged it, only to learn that my roommate had tried calling me.
This is when she informed me that the room had been charged to my card. My debit card. From the checking account that only had enough funds for gas and food for our trip home. I panicked. I called her back immediately but was only able to talk to her long enough for her to cut me off and tell me that she couldn’t talk because she was going to miss her flight.
I was furious. Not only was she aware of the fact that the room was charged to my card, but she walked out of the hotel with the cash I gave her. Let’s do the math here: I gave her cash for my half of the room. The entire hotel bill was charged to my card and I DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS to cover it.
And this is when the Blind Anger kicks in because I cannot recall the details clearly after that but I do know that I tried calling her back to see if she could call the hotel and give them her credit card. She then informed me let that they couldn’t charge her card without having her present to sign for it.
I asked her to send me the money via paypal and explained to her that I did not have any money to get us back home. I didn’t hear back from her though because she was on her way to the airport and boarding her plane back home.
Chicago would not be the same without visiting Navy Pier but even that was difficult for me to enjoy since I wore out the battery on my phone checking my email every 10 minutes looking for the confirmation from Paypal regarding the payment that my roommate claimed was on its way.
Mamikaze was walking around Navy Pier as well so we walked and talked together, and later that night, I was able to enjoy a *very inexpensive dinner* with Sugar Jones and Shash at the World Famous Billy Goat Tavern and the two of them helped me keep my mind off of my lame-ass roommate and reminded me of how priceless it is to have great friends to laugh and chat with.
We ended up leaving late that evening, after my roommate let me know that her husband had sent payment (for the hotel room PLUS the cash I gave her) to my Paypal account. I was relieved even though I knew that it would take a few days to get the funds.
Wrong. On the road, after using my debit card to fill up the Equiox with gas, I discovered that she had sent the payment as an eCheck, which of course takes 3-5 days to clear. I already have an anxiety disorder, so this just kicked it into high gear as I literally had to put it out of my mind and concentrated on the ride home.
Sugar Jones was a little annoyed that I was in such a foul mood, so we drove and drove, sleeping in the car that night just outside St. Louis since we no longer had funds to spend on a motel room.
We straight through the following day, stopping only for gas and enjoying coffee and Rockstar energy drinks which, as scary as it sounds, prevented us from eating as often (and therefore saving us money).
We picked up Sugar’s kids outside of Albuquerque the following night and I cried myself to sleep, missing my son who I was away from for a total of 9 days and for the mistakes, misunderstandings and missteps I took in regards to the money and hotel room.
The eCheck from Paypal cleared on Friday, July 30th. I got the email saying that the funds were now available in my Paypal account, but it still takes another 2 – 4 days to transfer the funds into my checking account. As of this post, the funds are still not in my account. (Trust me, I’ve been monitoring my account several times a day since last Sunday.)
My son and I have been trying to enjoy the last five days together, but I admit the situation has caused me to be a bit more impatient and irritable, bringing me to tears on several occasions and unfortunately, my son even heard me yelling – and swearing – when my roommate called to try and “work things out.”
What I’ve learned through everything that has happened since arriving in Chicago, and may be something that only those who attended BlogHer can truly understand, is that friends are not simply those that show up for your birthday party or who send you pictures of their families during the holidays.
Friends that I have made online have truly been the most genuine, giving and sincere people that I could hope to know. I had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person last week and there were several people I met last week that I look forward to connecting with online and hopefully again in person at future conferences.
Today is Friendship Day and if you’ve read this far, you’ll understand why I need to say thank you. Thank you for supporting me, listening to my side of the story, backing me up and for offering to send me money during this rough time. I truly could not ask for anything more.
Oh, and one more thing: My anxiety disorder does cause me to deal with things in unusual ways, so my roommate was right. It does totally suck that I got charged overdraft fees each and every time we stopped for gas or ate on the 2,000 mile trip home. And I too am truly sorry that this has occurred.