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Dear Amy: I work in a department with about 20 people. Recently, “I” was released.
I don’t know the full circumstances, but I was told there was a “cause”. Since then, many of us have kept in touch with Jo, sympathizing and offering support. Meanwhile, my co-worker “Hannah” is about to have her first child.
A group of us participated to give him a gift. Today, the person organizing the gift received a message from Jo, asking for the baby gift contribution to be returned.
We have already returned Jo’s contribution (in the $20 range), but most of us feel that asking for money for a gift for a returned baby is tacky and even a little mean.
Hannah had nothing to do with Jo getting fired, and I know that Jo and Hannah were very close at work. I had even signed the card before I left and wrote Hannah a very kind message, a message Hannah won’t see as we all think we should replace the card, now!
This whole incident changed many people’s opinion about Jo. Some people are rethinking giving references to Jo because of this. Was I out of line, or should we cut this person some slack?
— Perplexed gift giver
Perplexed: My first thought is that “I” is spiraling and that I might suddenly be very worried about finances. It’s not necessarily rational for Jo to believe that claiming that $20 will materially affect the bottom line, and yet, when your employment situation has suddenly changed, the immediate options aren’t always rational.
My next thought is that Jo is hurt and bitter. Bitter hurt equals mean. And yes, this person’s pettiness is out of line. Meanness always is.
Of course, this will affect your opinion of your former co-worker, but in my experience, you’ll almost never regret letting someone down, especially when they’re hurt and acting up.
Think of it this way: once slack has been granted, you can always “slack off” later, depending on the person’s subsequent behavior.
When providing a job reference, you should only comment on your specific knowledge of that person’s job performance. Not sure why Jo was fired, but using this episode as a reason to reject a recommendation would also be mean in my opinion.
Dear Amy: A close cousin of mine just got her first dog (after a lifetime as a cat-person).
I’m so happy for my cousin because honestly, this pup is definitely adorable, well behaved, and an all-around cutie.
When she first got the dog, we were having an outdoor picnic and she asked if she could bring her puppy. Naturally, we said yes. Everyone loved their puppy and the visit went very well. After that, we hosted another (very small) event on our front porch. Pup showed up and again the visit went pretty well.
We are planning to host our first big indoor gathering since getting the dog. We don’t want to set a precedent where the puppy is automatically included in every event, but we don’t know how to reverse that.
Insecure: Like many people, I acquired a “Pandemic Puppy”, also adorable and a real crowd pleaser. And while my dog is of the portable variety and has been welcomed into other people’s homes, I guess any host’s preference is not to have a visit with a dog. I know because I wouldn’t want to house a guest’s dog at an indoor meeting.
You will have to train your cousin. Simply say, “We like your dog, but since we’re having a bigger indoor gathering this time, we hope you can safely leave the puppy at home.”
People who have adorable dogs sometimes seem to have a blind spot about the people in their lives. Your cousin may insist that his dog will have no problem. You’re going to have to be firm and say, “It’s not going to work out for us this time.”
Dear Amy: “To Tell or Not” asked if she would disclose childhood sexual abuse to a potential long-term partner.
My wife could have written that letter 40 years ago when we were dating. The first six years of our marriage were extremely difficult because I didn’t understand why he held back emotionally. With the eventual help of a good therapist, he was able to share this vital part of his life.
Of course I feel sorry for her. The result of having this knowledge and trust is that we have had a strong, loving and amazing marriage.
Grateful: I am very excited for your account. Thanks.
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