Dear Annie: I hope you can help me with a friendship problem I am having. A group of six or seven of us get together for birthdays and other events. We also do things individually. One in our group, whom I interact with regularly, and I were attending an event where I mentioned we would stay for only a half-hour. I lost track of time, only to have her angrily motion for me to leave. She stormed ahead of me to our vehicle and berated me, stating, "You said we would only be there a half-hour!" (We were there for an hour.) She refused to talk to me the rest of the way home. I apologized and said I would have left if she had only told me she was ready to leave.
A few weeks later, at a potluck, we had a seating mix-up. She placed her dish at the space I had reserved and got very upset when I said I was already sitting there. Apparently, she has since chosen to dissolve our friendship. I am perplexed by how such simple mix-ups could warrant the end of a 10-year friendship, and I am concerned this will place strain on future social get-togethers with our group. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could go about resolving this issue? She is not very open to communication. This is not the first time she has dropped a friendship, and sometimes it's for a long period of time. — Perplexed
Dear Perplexed: It's not you; it's her. And it sounds as if it's been her for a while, seeing as she's had falling-outs with multiple friends.
Try approaching her, one-on-one, and asking whether everything is all right. It's possible she's having personal or health issues that are causing this irritability. But if she continues snapping at you, keep a safe distance until she's ready to treat you better. Friends don't berate friends.
Dear Annie: Lately, I've been seeing a lot of thank-you posts online recognizing the contributions of first responders. But I've noticed there is one group that isn't mentioned: the 911 operators. We can see the emergency medical technicians, the police officers and the firefighters, but without these unseen heroes' help, the other brave men and women wouldn't be able to help us. They wouldn't know where to go. These emergency dispatchers have to not only guide the first responders to you but also keep you calm and on the phone in the meantime. Next time you see cops or other first responders, thank them, but also ask them to send thanks to the 911 operators. If you know one, hug him or her. If you are one, God bless. — Grateful
Dear Grateful: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Traumatic Stress found that emergency dispatchers are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not surprising. Just imagine: Every day, they talk to people who are having their worst day. For greater insight into the stress these operators experience, read Michelle Perin's article "Hazards of Being A 9-1-1 Dispatcher," available at https://www.officer.com.
Emergency dispatchers do difficult, draining and indispensable work, and they deserve our appreciation, to be sure.
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