There is this unpleasant woman from our church who tries to bully my mother into doing things for her. My mother is a sweet old thing who is gracious to everybody and tries to help people in need. She attracts her fair share of crackpots and people who try to take advantage of her generosity. This woman was a former student of my mother’s. She was a former activist and feminist writer who has managed to alienate everyone she associates with, by dint of being a pushy, whiny bully. Of course she believes, when she is in one of her campaigns, that she is doing the world a lot of good, so she is actually clueless about her lack of social skills.

Anyway, this unpleasant woman tried to invite herself to our house, because she wanted to swim at the condominium’s pool.  My mother said, “I’m sorry, but I’ll be out today.”  She insisted – how about tomorrow, then? My mother said she was going to attend a Christmas party and will be out all day too.  “Shall I meet you at the party or at your house?” she insisted. My mother did not reply.  Finally that night the woman called our house, to insist on coming. My mother said, “I’m sorry, it’s not convenient for my family.” When pressed what “not convenient” meant, my mother said, “My family doesn’t want you to come.” (Nobody in our family likes her. Why should we have to entertain her?) The woman even had the gall to be affronted, as though it were her right to be at our house. “What kind of people are you anyway?” My mother put the phone down. I was damned proud of her at that moment. Later I checked her phone and saw texts from the woman, one of which said, “Do you even believe in karma?”  I deleted it. I don’t care what her agenda was. She has no business messing with my mother.

This woman has no boundaries whatsoever. She gossips about other people and their families, criticizes everything, and yet does not wonder why her own children wouldn’t even put up with her. People meeting her for the first time would do well to flee. She likes to call my mother and dump the day’s bad vibes on her, believing they are close friends. My mother is always polite, but she can say no.  This woman doesn’t always succeed in making my mother do things, fortunately.  She is toxic. She is a harpy.

As I wrote in a previous post, I try to practice compassion – to think of the other person’s position, in order to understand their motivations.  This woman is very unhappy, obviously. She lives alone, her husband having left her. Her children do not spend time with her.  She likes to participate in grand causes, like campaigning against noise pollution in the city, or campaigning against the cutting of trees along the highway. It gives her something to do. But what she does is harangue people in order to get her way. My mother gets things done in the “catch more flies with honey than vinegar” way. Guess who people prefer to be with.

I know it’s good to be kind, but we’re no pushovers. We’ve bought books from her, even overpriced magazines, in order to help her, but inviting herself to our house when we don’t even want to be in the same room with her is the last straw.  When she tries to call again and I’m the one who answers, I’ll tell her off myself.

Daily Prompt: Flee