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Dear Amy: I am a people-lover who volunteers at a non-profit organization that helps Afghan refugee women. We offer fabric and a space with sewing machines where they can come to work. Lately, these women are making items that they can sell.
Recently, “Kara” contacted us and asked us to create a copy of an outfit she had. He told me that if we could figure out how to do this, we could let the Afghan women make them and sell them. He provided cloth for the copy.
I spent six hours figuring out how to make the item and documenting it with photos and instructions. Then I did a sample. I’ve been a professional dressmaker, but I’m also a soft touch. I never charge what the job is worth. In this case, I wanted to ask Kara to donate to the charity so we could buy more fabric. A hundred dollars didn’t seem out of line.
As it turned out, Kara loved what I did and brought the sample to the door. I gave her instructions and the pattern pieces, and she gave me $20 to give to charity. She also told me that she and a friend could make these dresses and sell them. (I told her I thought the project wouldn’t work for Afghan women.)
After she left, I felt used, so I called her and told her that she had to pay me for my time if I was going to sell this dress design for a profit. However, now I feel guilty! I hate myself for calling her. Was I wrong to call her? Or am I wrong to feel guilty?
To Stitches: People often wonder if they are “wrong” for feeling a particular way. And my answer is always the same: your feelings are your own. They are neither right nor wrong. They simply are. Your job is to let your feelings guide you toward understanding and (possibly) change.
Your initial choices prevented you, and the organization you support, from receiving justifiable compensation. I suggest that your chronically low workload is more a reflection of your confidence in the value of your work than your desire to please. “Kara” walked out the door with a custom-made dress (as well as the pattern and instructions) for $20.
If you don’t set your price and state it clearly before the work is done, you’re leaving the buyer to guess at a fair compensation, or you’re gently ripping yourself off. I give your choice to stick with Kara a “five star” rating. I hope you take this episode as an opportunity to adjust your business model.
Dear Amy: Over the years, my brother and I have stopped communicating. She is toxic, bossy and creates problems among family members. As a result, we brothers don’t really communicate with him. Now we are all grown up, with him the oldest.
I guess I’ll outlive him because I’m the youngest. As we get older, I often wonder what I will do when he passes. Should I go to the funeral of an estranged sibling if I have good memories of our relationship from my childhood and still have a good relationship with his son? (He also has a daughter who has withdrawn from all family communication. No one knows why, but our niece’s silence occurred long before we stopped communicating with our brother.)
I would want to do the right thing by my nephew by supporting him, but I also wouldn’t want to create any problems for my brother’s family. Me and my other siblings and all our children are on good terms with family gatherings and communications. I think I’m the only one trying to stay in touch with my nephew.
Anticipation: Unless you strongly suspect that your presence would make things more difficult for your brother’s family and other survivors, then yes, you should attend his funeral. Be discreet, express your condolences, and do your best to read the room.
Dear Amy: I thought you were too easy to answer the question of “Concerned”, the waitress whose partner was smoking cigarettes and pot while pregnant. This is child abuse!
Upset: While this is definitely unhealthy for both mom and baby, I stand by my advice for this co-worker to not judge and try to sway this pregnant woman toward better choices.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
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