Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crap/Not Crap: Flaking out

Don't anyone get me wrong. I love the culture of the West Coast. The convivial and laid-back nature certainly suits the way I work far more than the dominant cultural mode of the East Coast. But I don't miss the cultural practice of "flaking out."

Back East, flaking out is an unequivocal bad thing. You just don't do it. Habitual flaking out on social engagements will guarantee a drop in said activities. It's just not acceptable.

Out West, on the other hand, flaking out is granted the same weight as you having a particularly virulent infection or your mother dying. Flaking out is a perfectly reasonable excuse for, say, missing your friend's dinner party (or worse). Never mind you said you were coming and the hosts toiled for several hours to make a delicious meal. To be fair, we all flake every now and again - some more than others - but the West Coast seems to enable flakers, not so much by approving of the act, but by heaping social opprobrium upon those who deign to be a little pissed off at their friend who flaked out on the concert after they forked over $45 for the fucking ticket.

I'll cop to having been prone to flaking out more than someone should. And living in a cultural milieu that is flaking-out intolerant, I've come to be better about it.

But for those of you who totally promise to be at the party to celebrate some professional milestone, and when I see you two days after the party you say, "How's it going, dude? Sorry I totally flaked on your party," you shouldn't be surprised if I'm pissed off. Don't promise to come, or let me know in a reasonable amount of time that you won't be able to make it. But don't get so stoned that you decide that the Seinfeld marathon seems easier to handle than getting off the couch and attending to your social duties and expect me to be happy about it.

Habitual flaking out is crap. Socially enabling that behavior is even more crap.


dave3544 said...

I feel as if I should apologize.

wobblie said...

This definitely isn't aimed at you or anyone else on this blog. Someone flaked on me last night, and I was a little pissed (in both the "been drinking" and "angry" senses of the word).

So there's no need to apologize. But you must weigh in with a crap or not crap.

dave3544 said...

Crap. I am punctual. I meet my commitments.

You see, Wobs, society is a social contract, wherein the potential frictions of living in collectivizing cities while maintain individualized identities are lubricated through the judicious use of what we call "manners."

As you know, I could go on, but it always ends in me singing "Rule Britannia" and I don't sing too good in comment sections.

mike3550 said...

Flaking: crap.
Wobs' response: not crap.

ash said...

flaking = crap (which, by extension, often means ash = crap)

Anonymous said...

definite crap, buuuutttt, some psychoanalysis is deserved.
I have encountered flakers all over the world. I had a total of 15 flakers for my wedding- i.e. RSVP'd that they'd come and then didn't. This was in the ever-polite South. That's much worse than not RSVPing at all, mind you, which is a different type of flaking.
When a few were confronted about it, they said that something came up and they didn't want to disappoint me.
Didn't want to communicate with me openly and honestly is more like it.
You see, in all my dealings with flakers, it comes down to human beings not knowing how to communicate honestly and effectively. When I lived in South America, it was almost expected to flake rather than to say "no" to anything. They didn't want to disappoint you or openly have to deny any situation. People would say that they were going to do something knowing full well they weren't going to do it.
It seems rather crazy, but I'm guilty of it too. Why can't we just tell the twoof?

ash said...

hey, that last comment reminds me: i had four flakers (3 RSVP'd yes then didn't show; 1 never acknowledged invitation) for my wedding...and we only invited 30 people!

let me upgrade my previous response to flaking = really crappy crap!

wobblie said...

Re-reading my rant in a sober frame of mind, I wanted to add this. We all flake from time to time in ways big and small - myself included.

There's a hierarchy of flaking, as well. Flaking out on after-work beers is forgivable in my book. Flaking out on personally important events and/or events that require some degree of coordination is crap.

But the biggest thing that chaps my hide is the enabling. When I've flaked out on something big, I've been yelled at, and it never occurred to me to think, "Why is that person so pissed off? What a dick!" My flaking out was wrong, and I accepted the scorn heaped upon me. But I've also had the shoe on the other foot where I was pissed at a person for flaking and I was the dick for not cutting the flaker some slack.

People flake - just own up to it when you do.

lex dexter said...

i've flaked on two different weddings (after RSVP-ing.)

honestly, i've done worse things, but that's the kind of fuck-up that keeps me awake late at nite.

it's hard to be a good person, but relatively easy to NOT be a BAD person, y'know? so when i eff up that way, it sticks around in my noggin. Never Again, I say.