By Kenneth Justice
“So what you’re saying is now that your money is all gone so are the friends?”
~ Last week at coffee I ran into an old acquaintance of mine who I hadn’t seen in more than a year.
“Where have you been dude?” I asked. He was such a fixture at the coffee house it was odd not having seen him for so long,
“Well Kenneth, I picked up a second job this past summer and I’ve been rolling in money” he said,
Unfortunately, when I asked him if he’d built up a nice little savings account he got a frown on his face, “Actually, I spent every dollar I earned” he said, “The second job was at a golf course and all of a sudden I was Mr. Popular all summer because I could get everyone in for free rounds of golf. So we’d go to club restaurant afterwards and spend a fortune every night on expensive meals and wine. It was so much fun hanging out with the cool people……but now I don’t have a penny left and since the golf season is over so is the second job”
The more we talked the more it became apparent that all those friendships he had developed over the summer were nothing more than skin deep; when my acquaintance could no longer spend the big money on expensive restaurants and pricey bottles of wine…..his ‘friends’ suddenly disappeared.
It’s a story that I’m sure many of us have seen in our own lives; some friendships are only as deep as our pocketbook. Remove money from the equation and we tend to find out who our real friends are.
I’ve also noticed that there are other factors involved in disappearing friends,
—-) If you quit working at a job most of the coworkers you thought were your ‘friends’ are suddenly no longer calling you to hang out after-hours
—-) If you quit attending a particular church or parish most of the church members you thought were your ‘friends’ will suddenly stop calling you to go out for coffee
—-) When your children become too old for soccer or extra-curricular activities, all of those parents you spent hours chatting with while sitting in the stands watching your children….are suddenly gone from your life
I guess what I’ve noticed is that our true friends tend to stick around whether or not we still work at the same job, attend the same church, or no longer have money. Are the people who hang out with us only because we have the money to spend on expensive meals or fun times at the bar really our friends?
My coffee acquaintance used to have coffee with me four mornings a week for years, “Kenneth” he told me a few years ago, “I consider you one of my five closet friends”. Yet after he got that job working at the golf course he literally dropped out of sight; he exchanged his coffee friends for a clique of suburban golfers….and that’s okay. I know so many people at the coffee shops I hang out with that I’m not losing sleep over someone who no longer comes around…..but what I found interesting is that when his money ran dry; he was once again coming back to the coffee shop to hang out.
The people at the coffee shop aren’t merely friends with you because you have money. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, famous or not…..the coffee house culture tends to be accepting of all people, all races, and all economic statuses. And so my acquaintance, having seen all those ‘friends’ he thought he had disappear when his money ran out…. quickly came back to the coffee shop where he knew the rest of us would still be hanging out.
Ultimately, none of us want to be lonely. It’s why so many people stay in abusive or un-loving relationships; they fear being alone. But I wonder, is it really worth developing friendships that are merely based on money? Is it worth it developing friendships that when a particular medium is removed (money, church, vocation) the friends suddenly drop out of sight?
I’ve had a lot of friends over the years drop out-of-sight. I can remember a couple people that I put a lot of time and energy into the friendships; and yet they returned all that effort by suddenly turning their back on me (and other people as well). I look back at those ‘friends’ and wonder if my time would have been better served in giving to people that weren’t so flippant in cutting themselves off from others.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
I will be in Pittsburgh this weekend! I’d love to have coffee with you! I will be at Commonplace Coffee in the morning and for more details send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org