Why is it that some people always seem to choose the most awkward way of doing things? Life is an endless stream of challenges, most are fairly easy to navigate, but there are some people out there who insist on living life the hard way.

To be clear, I’m not talking about the Ben Saunders, Ranulph Fiennes, and Fearghal O’Nuallain‘s of this world. I’m talking about that person you know who seems to derive some perverse pleasure in finding complications in the most simple things.

A perfect example would be my friend and current internet tech guy whom I shall refer to as DW. He and I have known one another since we were young children and he has looked after the hosting of my websites for more than 10 years.

At the moment I am in the process of moving to another host as DW has decided to close down his company. He’s recently taken a full time job and therefore isn’t able to offer the same level of service he once did. Initially he had said that he would assist me with the move, but has recently withdrawn that offer citing that, despite years of friendship and countless favors on both sides, it was “not his job.”

That aside, because he is still the sys-admin for the server I am currently using, this afternoon I had reason to ask a quick question. Because I wanted to be considerate to his new employment situation, and because emails to him have been a little hit and miss in recent weeks, I elected to send a short text message feeling that was the least intrusive way of asking a quick question. I didn’t expect an immediate reply, just a timely response.

To DW [Sent 15:36] – “Can I add Alex as a user of ADMS?”

A few minutes later I refined the question and sent another text message which cut to the chase and only required a simple yes/no answer.

To DW [Sent 15:41] – “Can I still use ADMS?”

ADMS is the system which controls my server and DW and I had previously discussed how it would be slightly limited for a while.

Three and a half hours later I hadn’t received a reply, so I sent a quick reminder just in case DW had overlooked the question as would be easy to do in the throng of a busy day. I knew he would by now be on the train home from London and was therefore probably able to give me a quick response to the earlier question.

To DW [Sent 19:03] – “Did you get my previous texts?”

From DW [19:04] – “Yes I did and I’ve been in meetings all day. I do have a job you know.”

I had hoped for a more useful reply, but in truth this is typical of the kind of difficult and infuriating response I have come to expect from DW. He appears to get some kind of unpleasant kick out of creating conflict from situations where no conflict exists. My annoyance was apparent in my reply.

To DW [Sent 19:06] – “Thanks for taking the time to write a longer reply to that text than a response would have been for the others.”

From DW [19:36] – “Don’t be such an arse.”

To DW [Sent 19:48] – “Again another silly response. Perhaps rather than sending unhelpful texts you could just answer the 2 simple questions that we are waiting to hear on? Thanks.”

Ordinarily I wouldn’t choose to engage in such an obviously pointless exchange, but I wanted to point out to DW that his approach to this whole tiny matter was absurd and that he had already expended more energy pointlessly avoiding the simple question rather than answering it.

I’ll admit that my response was rising to the bait and it might have been better to simply let it go as I have done on countless previous occasions. But where do you draw the line when a friends attitude toward you is so openly contemptuous? I’ve tried to speak with him about this in the past, but such discussions usually become a pointless waste of time as DW explains at length about how it’s not his problem that everyone else is so stupid.

From DW [19:50] “Later when I get home and have spent some time with Lindsey.”

To DW [Sent 19:52] – “No now. The questions were simple and you have already spent more time jerking around avoiding them for no good reason.”

To DW [Sent 20:06] – “Ok. If you derive some pleasure from being a dick then go right ahead. You spent more time NOT answering than you would had you just sent the answer, but I don’t expect you to apply that logic. Take as much time as you like.”

From DW [20:24] – “Do whatever you like.”

To DW [Sent 20:30] – “Nice.”

From DW [20:36] – “So those were important questions were they? Obviously not important enough for you to listen to me when I tell you stuff on the phone though. And then when I’m busy you can’t be patient!”

It’s worth pointing out that at this stage it had been five hours since my initial text message and by now DW had wasted more than one and a half hours arguing.

From DW [19:41] – “So now you can wait until I’m ready so I can repeat the same thing to you on the phone for the third time.”

To DW [Sent 20:42] – “Sorry. Was that an answer? Don’t assume I was not listening. For once in your life just try being agreeable and nice instead of an obstructive twit for no good reason. See where being pleasant gets you.”

To DW [Sent 20:46] – “All I asked for was a simple clarification and this is how you behave. What is wrong with you that you can’t see how counterproductive this way of dealing with people is?”

From DW [20:50] – Why can’t you be patient and wait until I’m free?”

To DW [Sent 20:52] – “Count your responses. Then ask yourself what a more productive method might have been.”

From DW [20:57] – “Go away.”

To DW [Sent 20:58] – “What?”

Moments later my phone rang. I could see from the caller identification that it was DW, no doubt furious and about to unleash a wholly unpleasant torrent of anger and abuse upon me, so I elected to let the call go to voicemail. He rang straight back, and once again it rang for a minute or so before going to voicemail. He rang back again, and again, and again, eventually leaving a long message (Below).

[audio:http://www.beforeiforget.co.uk/audio/charming.mp3]

The exasperating thing about DW is that he complains about the stress in his life, yet he would seem to be completely blind to the inescapable fact that 99% of that stress is a product of his own creation. I’ve tried to suggest ideas for an easier life, like perhaps being more agreeable to people, but again and again these suggestions fall on deaf ears.

I appreciate that engaging in the text message exchange was pointless, but it’s frustrating for me to continually allow a friend to behave in a way that is ultimately not good for him, or anyone else for that matter.

For years I have told myself that this is just one of those things that as a friend I just have to accept, but I’m beginning to find this obnoxious and disrespectful behaviour tiresome to the point where I am no longer willing to put up with it anymore.

This post was initially written and marked as ‘private’ making it unavailable to the public. It was reclassified as ‘public’ on March 18th 2009 following several months in which DW made no effort to speak with me. I had initially recorded the voicemail message and emailed it to DW asking him if he felt this was a reasonable way to speak to a friend. However, rather than addressing that question he chose to sidestep the issue and instead become enraged that I had allowed three of my friends to listen to the way he spoke to me.