A few weeks ago my son finally decided to join the rest of the household (AKA me) and switch to Mac. He replaced his ancient cheapo PC with another cheapo PC last summer, but it was already showing telltale signs of Windows bloat and I’m beyond tired of working on it. Five minutes of playing Minecraft on my Macbook (because his computer was running too slowly to load the game) and he was ready to part with some of the money he’s been hoarding.
So the Mac mini arrived and all was well in the Whitmer house, except I now had two crappy PCs sitting around and no good way to get rid of them. Kind of like the cardboard mountain in my basement, which may or may not still be there. *ahem*
Anyway, the older PC is worthless. I do need to get some old photos off the hard drive, but even after I format it, I can’t think of a good place for it other than maybe a shrine to outdated technology. The newer one will be semi-usable, though, and while it’s still not really worth anything, I decided to try to find it a new home. More specifically, I wanted to give it to someone who wouldn’t be able to afford a computer otherwise.
Over the weekend I got a call from one of my childhood BFFs. In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that she had finally gotten internet access at her house. (She lives in the middle of nowhere and it wasn’t an option until recently.) However, her husband just lost his job and she has to keep the money she had set aside for a computer to go toward bills. Meanwhile, she signed a 2-year contract on the internet service, so now she’s paying for something she can’t even use.
This friend’s situation was exactly the kind I had in mind. She has four kids, one of whom has a terminal illness. She told me how excited the kids had been about getting online and how convenient it would have been for her oldest to be able to work on school assignments at home. Not to mention what a nice distraction it would be for my friend, who had to quit her job due to her youngest child’s medical issues and doesn’t have much time for contact with other adults.
I wasn’t even listening to her anymore at that point – I was just waiting for her to stop talking. Finally I interrupted her.
“I can help you! I have a computer sitting here that we aren’t even using!” I explained that Jayden got a new computer and I really didn’t have any room for the old one. We picked a day and time this week for me to bring it over and get it set up, and I was thrilled to have one less computer taking up space in my house.
I’m Sorry, What?
Now this is the part I don’t get. Like at all. Late last night, my friend called me back.
“You know, we aren’t poor,” she said.
“Um… I know that,” I responded.
“Then why are you suddenly trying to give us a computer like we can’t afford to get our own?”
“Maybe because [husband] lost his job and you SAID you couldn’t afford one right now? And because I have one sitting right here?”
“Well, I just think it’s kind of shitty that you try to swoop in here like Super Girl and save the day. We’re perfectly able to take care of ourselves!”
Then she hung up on me. SHE. HUNG. UP. ON. ME. I spent about ten minutes just staring at the phone in disbelief. What the hell just happened?
The more I think about it, the more it bothers me. I know she’s upset and worried, but I honestly thought it would make her feel better to get a free computer for her kids. It’s not like I mentioned the fact that I had planned to give it to someone in need – I just told her I had one we weren’t using.
I don’t quite understand how she went from “Oh, I can’t wait! The kids will be so surprised,” to “You’re ruining my life, you jerk!” overnight. Did I miss out on an etiquette lesson somewhere? Is it now a bad thing to give something to a friend? I can’t figure this out. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her feelings, but I never dreamed she’d have that kind of delayed reaction. Even as I write this, I’m hoping she was just in a bad mood and will call to say it’s okay to give her the computer.
So I’m asking you guys: Did I violate some kind of “friend rule” here? Is there something I should have done differently? How would you react if you needed a computer and someone offered to give you one for free?