Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friendly Advice

Many of you asked how things had resolved with my friend from work and I wanted to update you.

I needed a few days to really think about things and how I wanted to go about approaching her with this information. I think I already knew when I wrote the post last week that I was going to get involved in some fashion. I just didn't know how to go about doing so.

I did call HR, anonymously and from a blocked line, to ask about company assistance programs and policies. I work for a very large company, with lots of resources. There is just about anything and everything that you can imagine. They are very supportive about Employee Assistance. However, we are all in positions where we drive company cars, so you can just imagine how careful they have to be about things that could compromise the safety of the employees, as well as innocent victims out there. The person that I talked to really wanted the name of my "friend" - although I think she thought I was talking about myself, but I didn't budge.

I also researched local AA groups and other resources, called for local meeting times and locations. Once I had some information on how she could get help, all that was left to do was the most difficult task of all - talk to her.

E-mail appealed to me most, but I ultimately decided against it, as I only have her work e-mail address. I didn't want to put anything in writing, for her sake or mine. E-mail is also so very tricky without the proper inflections or gauging the reaction to a statement and possibly changing approach. I thought about sending a letter, but for similar reasons, decided it was best to talk to her.

On Monday, I called J to see if we could get together for coffee or lunch sometime soon. Between her super-busy calendar and a few things we have coming up, we were looking at late May before we could manage a time that worked for both of us. I decided to bite the bullet and just talk to her on the phone.

I told her that I was hearing rumors, from several locations. I told her that I cared about her as a friend, and that after everything she had been through, I really wanted to see her happy. But I was concerned, based on some things that I had seen, that perhaps there was a grain of truth to the rumors and that I thought she might need some help. She vehemently denied any current problems with alcohol. She did admit to having a bit of a problem a few months ago, right around the time of the divorce, when we met for lunch, but swore that the rumors were untrue. She thanked me for bringing them to her attention, but she was also talking in a very abrupt manner. She seemed more concerned about tracking down who had said what than actually focusing on the issue at hand. Then she said she had an incoming call and pretty much hung up on me.

It went about how I expected it would. Knowing her personality, and how I myself would react to such an issue, I wasn't really hoping for a heart-to-heart. I was trying to let her know that the rumors were out there, so she could at least take measures to make sure that her behavior at work events was more appropriate. I also wanted her to know that I was here for her if she did need any help. We didn't really get to talk about company resources, but at a manager, I'm pretty sure she knows about those things.

So, thank you for your help with a sticky situation. I thought I would give her a few days and then call to check up on her again. I could tell she was mad when we hung up, but I am hoping that after she thinks about it for a little while, she can see that I was just trying to help. If not, then I decided that I am willing to lose her as a friend, because trying to help her was worth more to me. I'll keep you posted.


Kathy V said...

The way you handled things with your friend were very tactful. I hope that if she does have a problem, she seeks help before it escalates. Hopefully you did enough to have her focus on the problem and a possible solution. You are a great friend.

Fertilized said...

Bravo - very well done!

Jen said...

It sounds like you handled the situation very well. Unfortunately we can't control how people react in these situations though, and sometimes when there is a problem things have to get worse before somebody realizes they have to deal with it.

Waiting Amy said...

Yes -- well done. Sometimes it's really hard to be a grown-up.

Tracy said...

I think you handled it very well. I hope she realizes how lucky she is to have you as a friend.