Stop Calling Me

There is a man I know who lives in California. He detests computers and has never had an email address. He's one of the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet and is incredibly spiritual, basically an old hippie, now 70 years of age. He somehow glommed onto me and now he calls me every single day of the week. And he'll talk on and on for one or two hours. The same things over and over again. And he's growing increasingly demanding. He asked me to build him a website to sell a CD he made, and I agreed and charged him a nominal fee. VERY nominal. Like, RIDICULOUSLY nominal. Nearly FREE...

Next, he asked me to critique one of his songs because he plans to remake the CD and wants it to be more palpable for a younger audience. I critiqued it quite thoroughly and he was very pleased. Now he wants me to basically rewrite it, sing it, and record it for him so that he can take it to the studio as an example of what he wants. He really wants me to play it and Lynette sing it, but that's not going to happen. What's next? He wants me to take it on the road? Every time he calls there's a new plan, something that he wants me to do. He's driving me crazy. I got an answering machine, but he left l-o-n-g messages, so now I've even unplugged that.

Now, he's inviting himself along with us if we move to Vienna and has asked me to research apartments, doctors, everything it takes to move abroad, and mail the info to him. I haven't and I won't. I just spent 13 years taking care of my parents in their turns and 37 years as a hands-on in-home parent. If I go to Vienna it will be to finally get a life of my own. So call me selfish.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that he's lonely and that he's taken a shine to me, but what to do? I wouldn't hurt him for the world. And it's nearly impossible to get a word in edgewise to say, "I really have to go, the house is on fire."

Last night I dreamed that I was on the phone with him. All frickin' night. I woke up feeling frustrated and grumpy.

What would you do?


  1. #1. Intellectual services are either charged by the job, or by the hour, which can be further broken into quarter hours, or even minutes.

    #2. If there are additional services required, a new "per job" or "add-on/change order" rate is agreed upon, or the hourly rate goes into effect. Some people increase their rates at this time, because the work can be more difficult or involve completely different professionals and their skills, than the previously agreed upon scope.

    #3. Your friend is not serious about moving. If he were, he would do his own research, find his own apartment, and get his own life in order. That is, unless he HIRES you to do so for him with the afore mentioned terms. Relocation services have their own rates and skills.

    #4. You are under no ethical obligation to take care of anyone who is not in your family unless they have done the same for you, either monetarily, or through acts. In that case, it would be good to return the favor, in kind, and better yet, with a little "interest" thrown in.

    Assuming that he weren't someone who "carried" me through hard times, I'd possible set aside a day a week when I took his calls and plead business; I'd tell him that I make my living doing this kind of work and, as we fulfilled the terms of the first contract, we will need to make another, then I'd apologize for my inability to swing the previous "big brother" deal because I am so broke right now and my time is my livelihood; I'd laugh along with his discussions about moving to Vienna, but do very little but talk about the exciting things to come in that town; if he pressed, I'd say something to the effect of "customs have to be taken care of personally," and wow, that's such a deeply subjective decision," and leave it at that, or I'd find a ridiculously expensive apartment for him.

  2. The last time I talked to him I mentioned a relocation service, and upon mention of that, suddenly all of his plans changed. Oh no! He really didn't want to settle in Vienna--too cold in the winter--he's more serious about Italy. "Oh, and do you folks really have your hearts set on Vienna? What would you think about Switzerland?" I told him then and there that our plans to move to Vienna are rock solid, and that if he was serious about moving to Europe, he really needed a relocation company--that's what we're doing.

    I wouldn't take anything he says seriously, because it's obvious that he doesn't have a clue about what he's going to do, and really just wants to talk. In that case, I would set aside one day a week when you can talk, and explain to him that you are very busy right now with clients and that you can't keep the phone tied up in long conversations. I think that will help.

  3. I'd tell him why I wanted him to stop calling and then tell him to stop calling.

  4. oh Gosh, that is terrible. Tough topic.
    Slowly try to make a distance, because that will drive you insane!

  5. How about writing him a letter? I mean a real paper one. You could explain how the phone isn't working for you, and you could suggest that you and he exchange paper letters every couple of months to catch up. I dunno, just an idea. At least it would allow you to organize your thoughts without having him interrupt you.


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