Please consider this article as a public service announcement because I want everyone to stay safe, as we approach the upcoming holiday shopping season. These things DO happen and they can happen to the most intelligent of people (I speak from experience, having been victimized), so please be advised and feel free to pass my article along to anyone special in your lives, as well. The reminder never hurts a thing.
We have reached the late autumn months and though this time of year has been known for leaves that glisten and gleam in gorgeous hues of red, yellow and orange, it is also the time of year when the flu and common airborne allergens
invade, leading to the outbreak of illness.
These illnesses can arise from the simplest of activities. On occasion, a trip to the grocery store or simply going outdoors to rake some of the fallen leaves can lead to sniffles and sneezes that last for about a week. To date, no human being has ever asked, with any seriousness, to become sick; but still, the virus always manages to find the weakest soul and implants itself into that soul, accordingly.
As common as the knowledge is that the pollen count can have bad intentions during the current season, the same principle that is the derivative of many illnesses can also be found in holiday “friendships” that form.
The autumn months, from early October through the middle of December, fall
in the heart of the holiday season. In those three months alone, we have Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas – three widely celebrated and widely enjoyed holidays. As much as we do not like to consider it, this joyous time is thriving with persons who seek nothing more than to take advantage of someone; hence, the title of this article – the “Friendship” Virus.
The “Friendship” virus begins like the common cold or flu. A person can be embarking upon a task that they had scheduled, such as holiday shopping when disaster hits.
To share a fictitious example of how the “virus” implants itself; a 75-year old, Grandmother of four and great-Grandmother of eight is shopping in a local shopping mall, with the intent of purchasing holiday gifts for her
family. She is tired, so she stops at the food court for a soda and sandwich. She retrieves her food and sits at an open table. From out of nowhere, a man, in his thirties, approaches the woman and asks her if she has seen a little boy running around her, anywhere. She hasn’t, but the man is worried, so being a grandmother, the woman agrees to keep an eye out for the boy. The man tells her
where he will be and leaves. A few moments later, the boy appears and the elderly woman escorts the boy to the man. The man, who is very grateful to the woman, offers to help her carry things to her car. The woman agrees, but little does she know that the entire event with the missing boy was staged and the “friendship” virus has attacked her.
The threesome arrives at the woman vehicle. The man shares with the elderly lady, the story of how he recently lost his job, his wife is ill and how the boy may not even have a Christmas. He tells the woman that he is looking for odd jobs to make ends meet but nothing, as of yet, has come forward. The woman remembers that her furnace was not functioning that morning, and offers that the man come look at it. He agrees and she gives him her address. He comes to her house and says that her furnace cannot be fixed, and will need to be replaced. The cost that the man quotes the woman for fixing the furnace is $8,900.00. The
woman hesitates, but then reluctantly agrees since the thought of not having heat during the winter is not one she wishes to entertain. She writes the man a check for the amount and he agrees to buy the furnace and come back, the next day to install it. He never returns and the woman’s savings are gone. The elderly woman, through befriending the man, the boy and their abduction scheme, has fallen victim to the “friendship” virus.
The “virus”, however, is not immune to younger victims. Let us look at another example. “Wendy” is a 24-year old stay-at-home Mother of two small children. She is active in her church but due to her children, she is not as active in the community as she once was. As the result, she is not overly blessed with friends. It is at her daughter’s preschool that she meets “Lorna”, the “visiting Aunt” of a child named “Chelsea” at the preschool. The two women talk, while “Lorna” awaits her “niece”, outside the building and find they have a lot of commonalities. “Lorna” announces that she will be in town for a couple of weeks and she and Wendy agree to have lunch. (The seed that will become the “friendship” virus is now implanted.) “Lorna” and “Wendy’s” lunch comes and goes and when “Lorna” is about to leave town, she exchanges telephone numbers and addresses with “Wendy”. Wendy never hears from Lorna again.
Several months pass and a letter arrives in Wendy’s mailbox from a bill collection agency for a credit card balance, three months past due, in the amount of $7,200.00. Wendy calls the agency and learns that a credit card was issued in her name and that she is responsible for the debt. Wendy protests the balance as an obvious case of identity theft and an investigation ensues. Wendy thinks back to all the people with whom she has had contact and “Lorna” immediately came to mind. She contacts the telephone number that “Lorna” had given her. It was the number of a tire dealership that had been in business and held that number for 50 years and no one there knows anyone named “Lorna”. Feeling somewhat dull for not asking sooner, Wendy consults her four-year old and asks if there’s a child by the name of “Chelsea” in her preschool class. Her
daughter says no. Wendy, then realizes, that she, too, has fallen victim to the “friendship virus”. Lorna had used Wendy’s address and personal information, which anyone can purchase online for a fee, to sabotage Wendy’s good name.
The friendship virus can occur at any time and affect anyone. This article is not meant to shy people away from such things as community service, helping a neighbor, or trying to better someone else’s life. We all, in some form or
another, strive to accomplish this. However, as the holiday season is fast-approaching, so too are the “viruses” and evil-minded people who seek harm to other individuals. All I ask is that you enjoy the holidays, make friends and spend time with current acquaintances, enjoy the time with your family, while being vigilant to the fact that not everyone’s kindness is with the spirit of the season, in mind.
Here’s hoping that you stay immune from the viruses that lurk this holiday season.
© 2004 – All Rights Reserved
Jill Eisnaugle is an author and poet, residing in Texas City, Texas with her family and pets. She is the author of “Coastal Whispers”, a book of inspirational poetry and a book reviewer for Book Review Café.