I have reviewed the last several articles that have been published and I am saddened to see that the majority of them are about people feeling that they weren’t treated well by others. It really does pain my heart when others aren’t treated as an equal or when someone acts like less of a mentch to someone else, as I have been on the receiving end many times. I’m sorry to say that this article will be keeping with the same theme. Don’t worry; next week, I have a really sweet article ready for you to read.
Last week, I (finally) began deleting from my phone old pictures and numbers of contacts that I no longer need. I came across one contact that took me back to my single days. The name of the contact was “Reject.” I even covered my mouth and gasped when I saw the name, because it brought back a rush of memories. The good part of this article will be when I tell you that I have never used the Reject number nor have I ever given it out – I just couldn’t. I couldn’t do that to someone else. The sad truth is that I know people who have given that same contact information to others.
Let me start at the beginning: As you all know, I was in the shidduch dating pool for such a long while, my skin was turning “prune-y.” Even if a fellow wasn’t for me, I always acted like a mentch and tried to be sociable and talkative with my date. I didn’t want to ruin his night, plus I didn’t want to get the reputation as a bad date. I often felt a pang of guilt while speaking with a shadchan. I would tell him or her how I did not think the fellow whom they had set me up with the previous night was shayach for me, and how I didn’t want to go out with him again. They would say something like, “But he said he had a great time and you were laughing a lot.” I felt bad, because I had given no indication about the bad time I was having, and now the fellow would be blindsided when the shadchan would call him up with my answer. But that’s just me. I know for a fact that some girls and boys (yes, I called them girls and boys because their behavior resembles that of the extremely immature) act like anything but a mentch. They actually tell the person whom they are out with that they want to go home in the middle of the date, or they won’t engage in conversation with the person they are with. I asked someone why she did that, and she said, “Look, I’m looking for a husband. If he’s not for me, then bye. Don’t waste my time. See ya!” I asked why she had to be mean and why couldn’t she just be civil for a few hours to another person? “What are you, my first grade teacher? I am being civil compared to what I really want to say to him and the person who set us up.” Okaaaaay, I ended the conversation there. As for me, I couldn’t be mean to someone just because he wasn’t going to end up breaking the glass for me.
I remember very distinctly being at a singles event where my friends introduced me to a young woman they were friendly with. We spent a few minutes talking, and we realized that we had recognized each other from past events. She seemed like a nice, bubbly woman. Later that evening, she approached me and commented that she had seen that I was speaking with a specific fellow at the event. I told her that he and I previously dated and we were just catching up. She told me, “He tried to date me, but I shut it down.” Huh? Shut it down? She explained that she had met him months ago at a different event and he seemed like he was “aggressively pursuing” her for a date. She said that she did not want to date him (for a number of reasons) and she tried to get out of it, but he was very persistent about it. So she gave him her number and that was it. She never heard from him again. What? Did I miss something? I asked her to speak in English and to explain herself. I hate it when people try to speak in code so that one is forced to ask them questions in order for their tale to make sense. The truth was, she gave the fellow a fake number, telling him it was her cell-phone number. The next guess is that when this (nice) fellow called the number, thinking that he was going to speak with the lovely woman he met at the event, he was forced to listen to the recording on the “Rejection Hotline.”
You read correctly: the Rejection Hotline. It’s a number that people give out to others when they don’t want to be bothered by a person anymore or when they don’t have the guts to say “no” to a date on their own. While the excitement and maybe some trepidation builds while you dial the person’s number for a phone call you hope may lead to a date, and the line rings, you are dumbfounded when met with a loud booming voice, “Hello! This is not the person you were trying to call. You’ve reached the Rejection Hotline…” It goes on to tell you how the person who gave you the number doesn’t want you bothering her, so this should be the hint you really need, because you didn’t accept any other hints they tried to give you. Oh, it’s so cruel. I called the number and I listened to the full recording as well as another recording from another Rejection Hotline. The second recording was worse than the first, and verbally attacked the (unsuspecting) caller! The second Rejection Hotline number is specifically geared for men. A loud and obnoxious-sounding woman says you have reached the Rejection Hotline and “You were given the number because you made a woman feel unsafe. Please respect her right to self-autonomy.” Wow! That is some message!
I am a very real person, despite some people thinking that I grew up and remain sheltered. I know that there are creeps and predators in the world. I am also aware that sometimes a person (male or female) doesn’t accept when they are told, “Not interested,” by someone else. But in this instance, I am not referring to those who pursue others and act like the person is the prey they are stalking. Something must be done about those people and their behavior, and I think they need more than the Rejection Hotline to get the hint and to give up the scent. In this article, I am referring to women and men who meet at events or through mutual friends and because she (or he) doesn’t want to give her phone number, she gives him the fake number and thinks she has spared herself and the other person out of an awkward situation. She may feel it’s an easy way to get out of an uncomfortable situation. But, no! That’s wrong!
So you may ask, “What did you do when you were asked for your number by a fellow whom you had absolute no interest in dating?” Great question! Even after I had the Rejection Hotline number saved in my phone, I never gave out the number to anyone! Things have changed in cell-phone technology since I dated, but this is what happened: If I was asked for my number I would give him my mother’s cell-phone number. I would tell him that my cell-phone contract was coming to an end and so I will be changing plans, phones, and numbers soon. They said they understood. Usually a day later my mother would receive a call asking to speak with me. She would always say, “I’m sorry. I don’t know who that is. I just got this phone number. Good luck.” My mother meant every word of the apology and well wishes. Can some people call this cruel? Yes. Can some people call me a fake and say that I don’t really say what I’m thinking? No. I am very blunt in what I say, and at times I go against popular opinion or “the establishment,” in relation to shidduchim. But I was unable to be even truthfully kind to someone by saying, “I don’t think I should give you my number because I don’t think we are shayach for each other.” One person did that to me at an event (After the shadchan introduced us, he said, “You don’t want to date me. I’m not the guy for you. So we don’t even have to talk.” He then walked away leaving me stunned and speechless), so I know how that feels. My mother didn’t really like lying to the fellows who called, but she trusted my judgment in that I didn’t feel they were right for me and she helped me. (My mother a”h was the best wingman.)
I’m not saying you should follow in my footsteps and give out a relative’s number, and I am not condoning the Rejection Hotline in any way for nice, normal people whom you have just met but aren’t feeling as enamored as they are. However you decide to let someone down, just be gentle about it. You don’t know what type of day they have had or what mood they are in, and you do not want to be cruel to someone by adding insults to their tzaros. Even if the person isn’t having a bad day, don’t be mean to him or her just for the fun of it or so that you can share a story with your friends (“You know what I did? I gave out the Rejection number…”)
Hatzlachah to you all!
Goldy Krantz is an LMSW and a lifelong Queens resident, guest lecturer, and author of the shidduch dating book, The Best of My Worst and children’s book Where Has Zaidy Gone? She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.