Tossed Aside

Written By Stan

I met a good friend of mine, Oliver, while I was attending a lecture years ago. Although our busy schedules sometimes made it difficult to hang out, we did have a shared interest in manga. At some point, I somehow became one of his closest confidants. Unfortunately for him, the last several years have not been kind and he’d gone through some pretty significant life crises. One of them was an untimely accusation of plagiarism which came from his biology professor.

One of his seminar classes required Oliver to hand in a research report, which had apparently come under suspicion. The university’s policy on plagiarism was very no-nonsense. One possibility he faced was confessing to the illicit act, which would automatically make him fail the class and perhaps lead to expulsion by the provost. The other option he had was finding a fellow classmate to vouch for him. Oliver was a very low-key and private guy by nature, which meant that hadn’t socialized with many of his own classmates. Unfortunately for him, almost no one wanted to assist in this case because they were "afraid of getting on the professor’s bad side," as one of them reportedly testified.

This put Oliver at an impasse, but he wasn’t ready to give up quite yet. On one particularly hot and balmy afternoon in May, I was sitting with him in the school cafeteria when one of his few friendly classmates, Chloe, approached our table. She talked with us for a while and when Oliver informed Chloe about his predicament, she was just as shocked and indignant as he was. They had spent a lot of time studying together, and had bonded over the shared stresses of coursework, and even gone to a few parties together. She immediately volunteered to help out.

I had actually gotten a pretty good first impression of Chloe; she seemed devoted, open-minded and caring. Oliver laid out exactly what she needed to do on her end: email the dean and provost with a short written statement explaining her opinion that his final research paper could not have been plagiarized. Chloe repeatedly assured him that writing the email wouldn’t be a problem at all. I personally don’t remember the full conversation, but the last minute of their talk foreshadowed the kind of personal hell that Oliver would experience over the summer. Before she left, she said:

"By the way, since I’m about to graduate, I’m going on a vacation for a month or so. I’ll write the email while I’m there."

"No prob. See you later." Oliver replied to her gratefully.

Little did I know that my friend would have one of the most stressful times of his life.

Thin As a Promise

Time flew by after that conversation. After the offer of Chloe’s help had seemingly provided a solution to Oliver's crisis, the whole incident took a back seat in my mind. I focused on sorting out my own agenda, namely my final exams and projects. Once my summer break started, I went back to my hometown, hung out with old friends and used my free time to unwind after the semester’s stress. By that time, I had almost completely forgotten the incident with Oliver. Very late one night in June, however, I got an unexpected phone call. As I answered, I felt pissed at getting disturbed at such an ungodly hour:

"Oliver? It’s 3:30 in the fucking morning". I moaned "Why are you calling me now?"

"I can’t sleep", he confessed "I don’t know what the hell to do. Chloe’s not talking to me."

"What the hell are you talking about?" I grumbled sleepily.

"I just tried to remind Chloe through Facebook that she needs to send the email to the dean. She ended up blocking me!"

"What?! Are you serious?"

I listened to Oliver as he told me what had happened. Chloe had never messaged him or informed him that she’d emailed her promised testimonial. In fact, he never heard from her after they spoke in the school cafeteria. Oliver needed to secure Chloe’s help by a certain time, or else he would have to face the worst consequences from the provost. Since she was always on social media posting pictures of her vacation in Hawaii and Europe, Oliver figured that sending a reminder through Facebook Messenger was the right step to take.

He noted that Chloe had read his message but didn’t reply. Oliver felt it was a bit unusual but as he was about to send a follow up message, he found that he’d been blocked. There was now no way to reach her through Messenger. Since he didn't have anybody else to support his testimony, his academic future at the university was now at the mercy of the officials who would decide his fate.

When I asked Oliver what steps he was planning to take next, he replied that he was left with no other option but to make a 5 hour drive from his home to school. That’s when he would attempt to meet with the provost in person to explain the predicament and try to work out a "reasonable" deal with him. Then he also mentioned that the school had so far been, institutionally, beyond incompetent. He had spent almost that whole day calling and emailing just about every department he could, including the dean, the provost, the registrar and the counselor’s office, only to be given the runaround or be sent to a functionary who didn’t know how to address the situation.

I didn’t know who to feel more angry at: the school administration, which had not only put Oliver in this situation but was also so grossly incompetent as to keep throwing hurdles in his path, or Chloe’s own brand of thoughtless neglectfulness. To say that Chloe’s decision to block Oliver was "evil" would ascribe too much intentionality to her; she simply didn’t care about her "friend". She ended up abandoning Oliver at the time he needed her the most. All because she couldn't be bothered to take 10 minutes out of her vacation time to write an important email to the dean.

Oliver decided to make a last stand at the college and drive the required 5 hours to get there, ultimately ending up sleeping in his car when the provost mysteriously failed to show up. Chloe’s ridiculous failure to follow through on her task however, made me curious as to what she’d been doing since departing school. That was until I managed to take a look at her Instagram account. There was post after post of her in Hawaii, Europe, Bali, and a bunch of other exotic vacation spots. Pictures of exquisite foods and snorkeling in Hawaii littered her feed. In fact, she posted something like 30 Instagram stories on her account! It was mind-boggling how Chloe was having the time of her life while Oliver was almost at his breaking point and sleeping in his car. Is it really so taxing for someone to type a short email?

Yes, I'm Serious

Oliver went to hell and back but he lived to tell the tale. He never told me exactly what happened the next day, aside from the fact that he spent the night sleeping in his parked car before waking as early as possible to walk into the provost’s office to await him. Miraculously, he scored a bittersweet victory: although the provost agreed that perhaps the final paper wasn’t plagiarized, Oliver was nonetheless put on probation and barred from enrolling in classes for a year. Still, to him, it felt like a victory. It was a vicarious relief for me.

After Oliver returned home, he called to confide in me that he now felt as if he couldn’t rely on women in times of need. I told him his reaction was understandable. I also warned him it was best not to let anger and bitterness fester too much, and that although Chloe hadn’t kept her word, he shouldn’t dwell on her seeming indifference.

After trying to wrap my head around the ordeal he’d gone through, I eventually decided that Chloe simply did not see Oliver as a friend in the same sense that he and I understood the term. She apparently viewed him as a tool that would help her pass her classes. All the time they spent bonding studying for finals and socializing really didn’t seem to mean anything to her. It was just a means of cajoling Oliver into doing work for her. The moment that Oliver outlived his usefulness, she tossed him aside like a dead battery and acted as if he no longer existed.

To this day, Chloe has never come to Oliver to offer an explanation or apologize for her actions. Chloe’s life just moved on so easily with "#goodvibes." There are millions of "Chloes" living amongst us. They're generally fickle and self-serving, unless something helps to boost their egos on social media and provide validation; digital signals that support the self-assurance that they are good people. When you’re truly down however, "Chloes" don’t offer help. They offer soft words and feel-good inaction.


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