I could use some input, as I'm not sure if I'm handling this right.
(It turned out seriously long, so sorry about that!)
A little background: I started taking an evening class to add a specialty to one of my degrees.
I work as a freelancer, meaning I go from project to project. This means no steady income, and always on the lookout for new projects, but up until now I have always been able to pay the bills.
I've always wanted to add the specialty, and I figured since I am going to become a mom come October, it's now or way later. So I sign up for the course.
We ended up with only 6 pupils, all from various backgrounds. One of them, lets go with John, is 80 years old. He used to be a specialist in one field, but due to his body not being able to keep up anymore, he had to quit his business. He eventually got tired of sitting around at home, and is now taking this specialty because it is less demanding on the body, but still in line with what he used to do.
Class got along great, and we all get along fine with John. Sure, he talks a little slow, and a lot, but we chalk it up to him being the senior of the group. It's not getting on our nerves. We actually are impressed that he is still trying to do this.
John finds out that a few of his classmates, including me, live close by him. So he asks a phone number so we can maybe practice together. Sure, why not. All in all I think I ended up three times at his house over the duration of the course.
He started talking about his dreams for a new business. He was going to set it up at his house: he has the room, and he can change his old equipment around. He has a colleague who would provide him with customers. Fine, great idea.
He then asks me if I would be willing to maybe help him out once he has started up, as in take over a Monday here or there when he has too many customers, or he is having an off day. I say sure, why not.
John gets increasingly excited about his new business during the course, and starts doing more research. He tells me about his plans from time to time, all of which seem doable, over the long run.
All in all, John sometimes came over a little pushy, but nothing I couldn't handle. For instance he'd insist on picking me up at the station, while I'd rather walk. I've driven in his car once, and he is all over the road. Of course I don't tell him that, I just go with 'walking is healthy for my pregnancy.' He hems a bit about me being pregnant and he just wants to take care of me. I resolve the issue by not letting him know how I will be getting to his house, just when. He does take no for an answer, he can just be pushy until you give him that firm no.
Another point is that he tried to get it so we would drive to class together all the time. With that one I went with 'I rather take the bus, parking is such a chore in that city, and the bus stops in my street.' He hems a bit about it, but accepts. Then a week later, he tries to get me to take a different connection so we can ride the bus together. I explain that this would add to my commute. He seems disappointed, but doesn't push.
Then John calls me up one day: he has to go to the hospital, and it may be his cancer all over again. I spend a good hour with him over the phone, trying to calm him down. He calls a few days later; good news, not cancer, but it has to be taken out. He goes on and on about how his Doctor friend is going to bump him to the top of the line, he'll get surgery done next week.
Please note that I'm not a big fan of people using favors to jump the line, but that's not what John really needs to hear right now, so I just keep it at 'I'm happy you'll get helped so soon, please let me know how it goes.'
John takes the final along with the rest of the class. Teacher sends us all out to a little coffee shop so she can correct our scores and she will join us in half an hour (tiny classes rock
I'm not sure if my hormones were playing up that evening, but I felt absolutely terrible after the final, and for some reason John was really rubbing me the wrong way.
- He kept going on and on about how the doctors at the hospital were all his friends, and how the nurses all knew him. He then told us all where and when he would be staying. Now, I was honestly planning on visiting him in the hospital, I really was. But he then claimed that 'visiting hours did not apply to him, don't worry about it, just wait until the head nurse is gone, nobody is going to stop you because you'll be visiting me.' That just completely rubbed me the wrong way, but I kept silent about it, simply repeated 'I always follow visiting hours.'
- He then ordered a beer. And wanted me to taste it. I politely reminded him of my pregnancy (people still tend to forget, it happens). He gets upset, claims beer is good for pregnant women, and practically orders me to taste it. I go with a polite firm 'No.' He huffs, but drops it.
The day after the final, John goes in for surgery.
He calls me after the surgery, all upset: doctor has told him he needs a month of complete rest, so no taking the follow up course with the rest of us. I symphatise, but at this point red flags are flying all over.
- 'I called my wife first but she didn't pick up, so I decided to call you.'
(Err.. don't you have a son and friends? When did I get bumped up the list so high?)
- I'm going to follow the course anyway, doctor says it's ok as long as I just sit there and watch, but not do the exercises.' He then calls a different classmate and tells her he only needs 3 weeks of rest. He told me one month. He told our teacher something else.
- 'I want to start this business already with you and I told my partner so much about you and he's so excited that there will be someone there after I'm gone to take over the business.'
(err... so now I'm a solid partner in this? And I'm supposed to be your partner's backup? What?)
I try to be nice to him when he calls, but at this point, I'm more than a little wary. While I did say that I would be willing to help him out if and when he ended up with too many customers (and lets be honest, he still has to start up, so that won't be right away), and that I did agree that we would have to make sure I did the procedures exactly how he did it, so that would mean him looking over my shoulder for the first few times, I am now quite sure that he expects more than I promised.
He also calls me about every two days now. He would call more, but at this point I am not picking up every time; his calls are at least half an hour long, and are sometimes at the oddest hours (8 in the morning, seriously??)
Problem is that he is in and out of the hospital all the time, and picking up phones wherever he is to call, so I don't recognize all the calls. And I don't want to miss out on work related calls just because I don't want him to wake me up.
Anyway.. first class of the second advance course started. John can't be there, because he is still in the hospital. He promised to be there the next class.
I enter the classroom, we all sit down... and literally everybody starts to vent about John's behavior. Like a big, collective sigh of relief that he is, just once, not there.
Apparently he calls up everyone. Every day. He is dragging student x besides me into his business, and he calls her up at 7(!!) in the morning. Note that this student just lost her mom two weeks ago, got into a car accident last week, her dad slipped into a depression, and she is juggling two kids in college as a single mom. In my humble opinion, John should know better then to call her up every day. Oh, and she has no intention of stepping into his business. While he told me that she was very enthusiastic.
He tried to call up students to give them their grades even though teacher said she'd do that herself.
Luckily teacher got to them first. He calls up teacher every other day with his business plans. He told teacher me and student x are totally on board with his business. He's going to make cards with all of our names on them.
He also told teacher 'Just give my syllabus to Syrse or student x. They'll drop it off at my house.'
Teacher was not amused that he didn't ask us this beforehand, he just assumes we will do this.
Again, nobody can screen his calls, because he seems to pick up phones left and right in the hospital.
He also seems to call one student, then when she doesn't pick up, he'll call the next. And the next. And the next. We're all baffled at how many people he is calling, and how often.
Now the class has been feeling bad for him, as operations can be a bit scary at 80 years old. And yes, it's a bummer that he missed this one class. We fear that he may be lonely and upset, but at the same time... doesn't he have friends and family?
We're also concerned about how the information he gives out conflicts: first he wasn't allowed to follow the class. Then he was, as long as he just watched. But how will he get here without doing anything? Doesn't rest include not driving to and from the class?
So we're all a bit torn: we do feel bad for him, but exactly what can some classmates do for him? And why does he seem to think we will all
step into this business?
This was yesterday evening. He actually called student x during
that class. She didn't pick up.
He called me up this morning at 8:30. I picked up, because it was another number again
. This time I told him flat out 'John, why are you calling me this early? I was still sleeping.'
John: '(surprised) Oh... I'm at the reception, waiting for my doctor...'
me: 'I was still sleeping. Call me later.'
John: 'Oh, ok. Bye!'
So yeah... I'm a bit at a loss on how to handle this. It seems that he has elevated our friendship way above the level that I apparently see it.
Looking back, I am also starting to notice these little puzzle pieces about my pregnancy:
- He has a son, who went through a divorce. He complains to me about how hard it is to see a son go through that, and that it is painful that he will never have grandchildren.
- He wants to drive me all over because I really shouldn't be walking in my condition.
- He tries to touch my stomach.
- When I come in to work at his business, I should just bring the baby along. (I cut that one off immediately, I don't plan on taking my child into work related territory, ever. Seriously? What would the customers think?)
- He has asked me flat out who my Gynecologist is.
- He knows I am scheduled to give birth at 'his' clinic.
- He has made it perfectly clear that all the doctors and nurses there are his friends, and visiting hours don't apply to him.
Yeah... I'm more than a little wary at this point. Or am I seeing ghosts?
So here's my dilemma. Old, scared lonely guy who I really don't mind talking to once in a while, but I fear that he has put it into his head that this friendship is more than it is. I don't want to kick him in the chins, but I do feel the need for some firm, polite boundaries.