Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

Several weeks ago, I assured someone I would be happy to take him to doctor visits and other medical appointments when he needed me to do it. Last evening, I received an email from him, asking me to help him by giving him a ride (or rides) in connection with a medical appointment (a biopsy) scheduled for Monday, November 19.

That’s the day I have my cancer surgery scheduled. So I answered him that, as much as I wish I could accommodate him, I could not. And, immediately, I felt an overwhelming guilt that I had essentially promised this guy I would help him in his hour of need, only to refuse to live up to my commitment. Frankly, I don’t think I know anyone else who would fault me for saying I’ve got to tend to my own medical issues first. But I told him he could count on me. And, I guess, that was a lie. He could count on me “if it fit my schedule” might have been a more honest assertion. On one hand, I feel perfectly fine about opting to go forward with my surgery and ignoring his need. On the other, I feel like I didn’t follow through on a commitment. I followed up last night by asking him if he would like me to try to find someone else who could help. He responded that he would. So I’m trying to find someone to do it. I’m starting by asking other people I know he knows, people who share his appreciation of writing. And, perhaps, I’ll ask a few other folks who share our sphere. If they can’t help, I’ll expand the search to my neighbors in the “Nextdoor” community. There’s a service called “Village Scat” that I thought might be an option, but the transportation service only provides low-cost rides to and from appointments near the east and west HSV gates, so they won’t provide a ride to Hot Springs.

As I considered this fellow’s request, and the plight that led to it, it occurred to me that there exists a very small handful of people I would consider asking for the help he’s asking me to provide (which I offered without being asked, not thinking I might be unable to fulfill my commitment). It would be hard for me to ask for help from someone who’s not very close to me. I don’t know this fellow exceptionally well, but I suspect he may be of the same mindset. So, if I can’t help him or find someone to help, he may be in a pickle. I don’t know his financial situation. Perhaps he could easily afford a taxi. Or maybe he can’t. I’m not going to ask. I’ll just see what I can do to accommodate him. I believe one ought to be willing to seek an alternative way to meet one’s commitments if circumstances prevent fulfilling them as originally promised. And I rather like that about myself. Now, the trick is to see whether I can actually find an alternative.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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