It’s OK to say “NO”

Living in Singapore, only 1.5 hours away from my hometown, I have many friends coming to visit, almost every week. Either for business, to visit me or ehmm… to shop. Yes, Indonesians love to go shopping here. So, my phone is always busy receiving messages from friends who notify me on their arrival in this Lion City. It’s amazing. My colleagues at work even commented, “You seem to have your friends coming to visit every week, Nila??” I just smiled. It’s true. Some of them, who are not on business trips, politely ask whether they can stay in my place. As for my best friends, of course it goes without saying that they can always stay in my place, anytime. And I’ll be the one who offer them first… What’s the point of staying in a hotel if you have your best friend living in that city?

Having the whole apartment for myself, I don’t mind having friends staying over for a few days. In fact, it feels nice to have them around. Living abroad always makes me happy to see my friends back from Jakarta. Reminisce the good old days — when we’re young (school friends) or when we used to work together (ex-colleagues) or spend every weekends partying together (hangout friends), etc etc… — I can laugh so loud even my TV once fell off from its place! (it happened, yeah! **lol**)

Until two days ago, I had to think hard on my couches in the living room. What happened? Ok, here’s the story…

Over the weekend, I had a friend staying over for 3 days. She is my old friend from Jakarta. She asked me whether she could stay in my place during her stay in Singapore. “Of course”, I said. But, she was bringing a friend, too. A girl on our age. “Sure, no worries”, I said.

So, they stayed in my apartment from Saturday to Monday afternoon. I like her friend, too. The three of us had a good chat before went to bed or in the morning as I didn’t join their never-ending-shopping-walking-along-the-Orchard-Road and not to mention the must visit place for Indonesians shoppers who come to Singapore: IKEA! Hehehe…

Then, on Monday morning, I said goodbye to them before leaving for work. Their flight was sometime in the afternoon, so I wouldn’t have a chance to see them again before they leave. I walked to the bus stop in front of my apartment, said my usual “Good morning, how are you?” greet to the guards who always smile to me every time I pass the huge gate, waited for the bus for a while, then when it arrived, I hoped in, chose a playlist from my ipod and read my book. It was a nice morning and a lovely day. I spent the evening with one of my girlfriends. We went to Orchard Road as I needed to get a dress from one of the shops there (the dress was too long for me, so I asked them to alter it… hehee… yeah yeah, am petite!) and get the book that I’ve ordered from Borders Bookstore. Had dinner at one of the restaurants in Takashimaya where they have “Durian Fried Rice” in the menu (nope, I didn’t order that as my meal, no matter how I love the fruit, I think durian fried rice is just too weird) then went straight home.

And here’s where it started. As soon as I opened the door, I smelled gas!!! My whole apartment filled with gas!! Oh my goodness… what’s happening? I ran into the kitchen and checked the stove. There I found, one of the buttons was still on and I could hear the sound of the gas coming out of it. “What the *&%$#@#!!*…”, I thought. I turned it off then opened all windows and doors, turned on the AC and fan to the max.

I sat on my couch, still in shocked. The whole apartment was still filled with gas. I tried to digest everything and tried to calm myself. I was so pissed off but couldn’t mad to anyone. I realized how dangerous it was… the whole apartment could turn into fire if someone lit matches… or if there was still fire in the stove! I tried hard not to think of what would happen if there was a fire… what would I say to my landlord??? Holly molly… I couldn’t imagine!!

I texted my friend and told her what happened. She had arrived safely in Jakarta after a long hour of traffic jam. She said that she didn’t turn on the stove, so it must’ve been her friend who forgot to turn off the button. My goodness…She apologized. I was still speechless…

So, there I was… sitting alone on my coach, inhaling the smell of gas that isn’t my favorite smell at all – unlike my vanilla aromatherapy one –, trying to cool myself down. Then suddenly I remember a sms from a friend that I received earlier in the afternoon. She wanted to borrow some money from me. I would happily lend her the money, but this time, I was confused. Why? It was because once she borrowed a certain amount of money from me and promised to return it within a week. But, months after months, she kept on delaying it. And lucky her, I’m a forgetful person and I’m not the type of person who will chase you to the end. I think, everyone should take responsibility for everything they do. Or, I expect them to act like one. However, in the end, she returned the money to me, after a couple of months.

So, that afternoon, I didn’t know what to do. I turned to my colleague who was sitting next to me and asked her what would she do if she were on my shoes. She said, “Don’t lend it. Full stop”.
I had to think for a couple of minutes before replying to the sms. Had to think hard on how to put it nicely on writing. Money and friendships are two things that are not supposed to be mixed. Both are very sensitive. Sometimes you make a great juice out of it, but on the opposite, it could turn out to be a sour juice that would make you vomit. Always be very careful with these two ingredients.
So, in the end, I just sent a simple text, “Hey girl, sorry, I can’t help you this time…” It was very hard for me to write those words. I hate saying NO to people as much as I dislike people saying no to me. Hehehe..

But, to my surprise, her response was very light: “It’s ok, Nil… no worries”. Hue? As simple as that? I was expecting a dramatic response.. but, nope, it didn’t happen. I was so relief. I was worried that my friend would mad at me and felt hesitate to contact me again in the future. I guess (and I hope) it would not happen…

There I was…alone, in my living room, realizing that these two incidents that happened to me today had taught me a lesson: I should learn to say “NO” to friends. I think the Big Boss Up There wanted me to learn this subject. And I thanked Him for the “small” teaser – the leaking gas from the open stove incident. I thanked Him that He was so nice not to let any bad thing happened to my apartment. So, next time, I would be very careful in selecting who are eligible to stay in my apartment. If she is bringing another friend that I don’t know, then I would have to say “NO”. I just can’t imagine the risk that I have to deal with if something bad happen to a place where I live. It’s just too big.. and am sure a simple “NO” would not hurt…

So dear friends, I’ve got my lesson today. If I ever say NO to you… please understand that there must be some logical reasons behind it. I still love you and am still your friend.. 🙂 And am sure it also works the other way around :). With love, xxx

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