Remote expression of concern (earthquake-related)

I was talking yesterday to some friends and the subject of the Christchurch earthquake came up. I noted that I know several Kiwis that live in Christchurch, and Susan (the wife of one friend) asked how they were doing. I said I hadn’t yet checked. From there, the conversation went something like this:

“What do you mean you haven’t checked? How can you not have checked on your friends? They could be dead!”

“Well, Christchurch is a big town and they don’t live in the worst-hit part, so I really doubt they’re dead.”

“But how can you not at least check? Don’t you care about them?”

"Sure I care. But my checking on them can’t help anything. "

“I can’t believe this attitude! You should at least try to call them!”

“And tie up phone lines that are probably already overtaxed. How would that help?”

“What’s one more phone call? You should at least let them know you care.”

“Do you think they assume that friends who don’t call them have suddenly ceased to care about them?”

“Well I would have called immediately!”

FTR, I have an e-mail today from another friend in NZ (well outside Christchurch) who says they are all doing fine, despite some damage to their houses and no water.

But this certainly showed a huge gap between my attitude and Susan’s. I wonder if I’m a bit strange here.

Just normal.

I’d really doubt people who’ve been through an earthquake decide to sit by their phones fretting they haven’t been called yet.

If you showed that level of concern about everybody in every potentially dangerous situation, you’d go nuts.

Though I would’ve expected you to at least show a little more interest than you did, you’re not being unrealistic.

As it turns out, you probably wouldn’t be able to know anything unless someone contacted you, just as they did, as it’s all still a bit of a mess right now.

To clarify: the e-mail report came in response to an e-mail I had sent, asking for news.

Meh. There’s a bell curve of “normal” here. Some would do what you did, others a little more anxiously would do what Susan would have done. Both of you are within reasonable parameters.

Ah, the “I don’t want to bother people when they are busy” syndrome. My mom has this. When her sisters were ill, I would ask if she had called them to see how they were…she’d say, “Oh, I don’t want to bother them if they are busy…I don’t know when they are at the doctors/eating/visiting with their kids/sleeping/daydreaming in a chair, and I don’t want to interrupt.” So of course the sisters all figured she didn’t give two hoots about them.

Sure, a call or an email won’t “help” per se, but it will make them feel better that people care and are worried about them. I can’t imagine having something like that happening around me, and then days/weeks later when things have calmed down, realizing that no one I knew had bothered to call and see if I were alive even! Sure, you might call at a bad moment, or they might be surprised you were worried about them, but at least they would know that you WERE worried. And knowing that people care and think about you is incredibly important,even if they can’t “help”. Sitting back and saying, “Oh, wow, that’s awful what’s happening over there, I’ll just sit back and wait to see if they ever call me to tell me they are alright…someday…unless they are lying in a hospital…or if all their records are destroyed and they can’t remember my number…oh, well, someone will keep me informed” seems a bit too stand-offish. And just because they LIVE in another part of town doesn’t mean they weren’t IN an affected part of town at lunchtime when the quake struck…or during an aftershock. Unless you have a GPS on them and are tracking their movements, you can’t know they weren’t in harm’s way.

So yes, in short…I think your reaction is a bit…odd.

I can see the OP point of view. I live in Chch when I was small and don’t remember much about it, but I know people there. I emailed them but non have replied yet.

And now what? I can’t afford to phone them, and if they are living, which I hope, that is well, but if the worst happened and they were all dead, then what? If I can’t afford a phone call I certainly couldn’t afford to even go to their funerals. In fact, realistically I’ll never be able to afford a trip there again.

Sure I could sit around and worry but that isn’t helping them and I need to be doing other things with my life, like using the time to look for full time work or a free clinic.

It kind of reminds me when a good friend of mine and her husband were driving to Florida. I lived there so they called me up asking for help finding something.

I was giving her directions, this was like at 6pm and suddenly the phone cut off. This was in 2002 and cell phone had far more cut offs than now. So I figure, “OK it went out of range.” Then around midnight my time I get a call from my friend, she says, “I just wanted to call you and let you know I am OK, I figured that having the call just end like that you might be worried I was in an accident or something.”

OK it was MIDNIGHT, six hours later and I was asleep. Now I don’t know, I may just be a bad friend, but I WASN’T WORRIED :slight_smile: