Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Adventures with Strangers

I've been a bit hesitant on writing this post because I don't want to sound like a negative, complaining person, but the truth is, people can be rude without even realizing it.  After much thought, I see where I could have put more effort in to changing the outcome of my day instead of tolerating it.

I've recently changed churches.  I went from a group of 30 people I'd known since birth, to a mega church.  I started going here because my ex-manfriend was new to Christianity and needed everything simplified...so we started attending what I've always called a fluff church.    He really liked it so I learned to like it.  We had talked about getting involved so we could meet some people but then he decided to walk out of the relationship.  So, freshly single, I decided to try to get involved and meet some people.  Every week, they end the service talking about getting involved in a group, all you had to do was send an email in to the staff.  I sent in 3 emails before I got a reply.  I realize they are probably super busy but honestly, don't promote it every Sunday if it takes 6 weeks to get a reply.

In the email, I mentioned I was available any day but Thursday to do groups.  Naturally, I got placed in a group that meets on Thursday nights.

I showed up late, sweaty from my zumba class, and awkwardly said hello to this new group of potential friends.  The following Sunday, they invited me to sit with them in their row, but I'd already decided to sit with my brother and his girlfriend.   After the service, the invited me to go hiking with them.  I was pretty excited because I had already planned on going hiking that day anyway, so why not spend time with my new potential friends?

They wanted to leave at 1 pm, but I had lunch plans with my parents since they were about to leave for Arizona, so they rescheduled it for 2 pm.  I rushed home from lunch, threw on some clothes, not 100% sure how to dress because it was sunny but only 30°.   If I were hiking alone, I would have grabbed my backpack but because I was going with a group, I didn't think I would need my hiking necessities like chalk, a pocket knife, and baby wipes...even though I knew it would be muddy.  Instead, I grab a bottle of water and a hat.

We met at a central location and car pooled 45 minutes to Mohican State Park.  On the drive down, I told the car that I had to be back between 5-6 to do farm chores, but I wasn't very concerned because in my mind, we were driving 45 minutes down, hiking for maybe an hour, and then heading back.  I would easily be home in time to do chores.  I was then told that the driver of this car was going to stay until sunset and I could get a ride back in the other car.  Alright, let's adventure then!  I thought to myself.

When we got to the park, I realized I was completely out of my league.  Though I'm a regular hiker, my pace was nothing close to their pace.  Five minutes into the hike, I noticed the group was a good amount ahead of me, so instead of stopping to capture breath-taking pictures of nature, I was power hiking to catch up.
(Note: The guy in red sometimes slowed down so I could at least see him... the rest of the group is by the pine trees in this picture...)

Not only was everyone power hiking, but this path was not an "easy" path.  It was climbing and muddy.  Somehow, we did a mile in 30 minutes.  And when I say we, I say, they probably did it in 20, I finally caught up with them in 30.  Whenever I would reach the group, they would immediately start continuing on...and soon, I would be left behind again.  Never having a second to catch my breath or enjoy the beauty of the day.  By the third time this had happened, I was starting to get pissed off.  Whenever I ask someone to go hiking with me, I let them set the pace.  I engage in conversation.  I acknowledge their existence and always check and see if they need a break or anything.  It's called being considerate and not knowing a person's health or physical conditions.  This group of strangers left me behind, not even knowing if I was a hiker or not.

Every time I would make it to a beautiful spot, I'd get my phone out to take a picture, just to see the group taking off again.  It was around this time that I realized I would not be making it home in time to do farm chores, so at the next hill, where I had cell phone reception, I contacted my brother and told him my situation.  By the time I finished writing the text, I looked up and saw my group had left me again.

Then, we did another trail.  Within 3 hours, my fitbit was alerting me that I'd met my daily 10K quota, and there seemed to be no end in sight.  My legs were on fire as I climb the next hill.  I literally got to the top, where everyone had been resting and waiting on me, and they started back down.  I was so frustrated at this point, and the other couple at the top of the hill seemed to understand my frustration, so their facial expressions claimed as we made eye contact after the announcement that it was time to head back down.   

The walk down the hill I told myself to let it go, to ignore the fact that these people were rude and inconsiderate, and to simply pretend I was hiking alone...after all, I had hiked alone all day now.  I was with a group that was never within my sight, and instead of enjoying my hike, I was more concerned in keeping up.  So, I slowed my pace and said, screw it.  I didn't care if the group left me behind, in my mind, I was already contacting my brother and asking for a ride home.  I worked on having an attitude change but honestly, I was so incredibly pissed off that despite my mediation breaths and repeating positive mantras, I struggled to let it go.
This was my closest distance at all times... usually it was much further.

I finally made it to the group, only this time, no one even looked at me... I was about 5 steps away from the group when everyone started walking to the cars.  From there, they decided we would go look over the gorge overlook, so we drove over, jumped out of the car, and they power walked to the overlook.  Again, when I got there, they started heading back to the car.  I let out a loud sigh, and headed back.

Then, they decided they wanted to go to Mt. Jeez at Malabar Farms to watch the sunset.  I took a look at the sky and knew we'd already missed the best part but since I'd been ignored all day, I kept this comment to myself.  We made it to Mt. Jeez and walked up another insanely steep hill.  Again, I was the last one to make it to the top, just in time to overhear a comment, "If we hiked a little faster, we could have made it here in time."

From there, they decided they wanted to go to dinner in Ashland...by this point in time, I rolled my eyes.  I had no say in this adventure.  I was simply stuck and tagging along.  The place they wanted to eat was full, so they picked a different location.  When we got there, the host told us it would be a 30 minute wait for a table.  Everyone decided we could wait at the bar.  The girl beside me told me she had to be at work at 9pm and she needed to order food soon so she could make it on time.  I said, "well, I was planning on being home 2 hours ago, and no one told me it was going to be an all day event.  I did have other plans for today."

She looked at me with alert in her eyes.  "Are you serious?  Why didn't you say something?"

I told her I told everyone in the car on the ride over that I needed to be back at a certain time but when I realized that wasn't going to happen, I changed plans.  She apologized on behalf of the group and asked me if I ever intended to hang out with anyone in this group ever again.  I shrugged my shoulders and told her I wasn't sure if I really wanted to.

It was then that I pointed out that everyone in our group was seated at the bar, "so, why don't we all order our food now instead of wait for a table?"  She liked that idea but it was shot down because we should have our table in a few minutes.   By the time we were seated, we ordered food, and scarfed it down.  At 8:45pm, the girl beside me wished me luck on getting home while she headed off to work.  I caught the first ride to our meeting place where our cars were, and while walking out the door, a a girl from the car ride over looked at me and said, "I guess you're not doing farm chores today?  I kept thinking about you and wondering why no one would take you home."  I'm so glad she mentioned this at 9pm.... I mean honestly, do people not understand that animals have a schedule too? That you don't skip out on farm chores like you do laundry or kitchen dishes?  I give her a smug smile and hopped in a car, riding silently all the way home.  I finally made it back to my apartment at 9:45pm.

I'm sure these people are lovely but I've learned to:
1) always drive separately 
2) never assume people remember when you tell them you need to be back by a certain time and constantly nag and remind them 
3) speak up  
4) always get a full description of the event such as arrival and departure time before agreeing to do anything
5) always charge cell phone before hanging out with this group

I don't know if I will continue to participate in any more gatherings this group of people have, but I know one thing for sure, I will never go hiking with this group of people ever again.

1 comment:

  1. This is why I just usually don't hang out with people. ;-)

    No, honestly, the best course is to ALWAYS drive yourself.


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