Dear Amy: I work in a department with around 20 people.
Recently “Jo” was let go.
I don’t know the full circumstances, but I was told there was “cause.” Since then many of us have kept in touch with Jo, commiserating and offering support.
Meanwhile, my coworker, “Hannah,” is about to have her first child.
A bunch of us chipped in to get a gift for her.
Today, the person organizing the gift got a message from Jo, asking for their baby gift contribution back.
We have already returned Jo’s contribution (in the $20 range), but most of us believe that asking to have money for a baby gift returned is tacky and even kinda petty.
Hannah had nothing to do with Jo’s termination, and I know that Jo and Hannah were close at work. Jo had even signed the card before leaving, and wrote Hannah a very kind message — a message Hannah won’t see since we all feel that we should replace the card, now!
This whole incident changed a lot of people’s opinions of Jo. A few people are rethinking giving references for Jo because of this.
Was Jo way out of line, or should we cut this person some slack?
— Perplexed Present-giver
Dear Perplexed: My first thought is that “Jo” is in a spiral, and might suddenly be very worried about finances. It is not necessarily rational for Jo to believe that reclaiming this $20 will substantially affect the outcome, and yet when your employment situation has suddenly changed, immediate choices are not always rational.
My next thought is that Jo is hurt and bitter. Hurt plus bitter equals petty. And yes, this person’s pettiness is out of line. Pettiness always is.
Of course this will affect your opinion of your former coworker, and yet my experience tells me that you will almost never regret cutting someone some slack, especially when they are hurt and acting out.
Think of it this way: once slack is granted, you can always “de-slack” later, based on the person’s subsequent behavior.
When offering a job reference, you should only comment on your specific knowledge of that person’s job performance.
You don’t know why Jo was terminated, but to use this episode as a reason to refuse a recommendation would, in my opinion, also be petty.
Dear Amy: A close cousin of mine just got her first dog (after a lifetime as a cat-person).
I’m very 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 hosting an outdoor picnic and she asked if she could bring her pup. Naturally, we said yes. Her pup charmed everyone and the visit went very well. After that, we hosted another (very small) event on our porch. Pup showed up and again, the visit went fairly well.
We are planning to host our first larger indoor gathering since she got the dog.
We do not want to establish a precedent where the pup is automatically included in every event, but — we don’t know how to roll this back.
Dear Unsure: Like many people, I acquired a “pandemic pup” — also adorable and a real crowd-pleaser. And even though my dog is of the portable variety and has been welcome in others’ homes, I assume that any host’s preference is not to have a dog visit. I know this because I wouldn’t want to host a guest’s dog at an indoor gathering.
You’ll have to train your cousin. Simply tell her, “We enjoy your dog, but because we’re going to have a larger indoor gathering this time, we’re hoping you can safely leave pup-pup home.”
People who have adorable dogs sometimes seem to have a blind spot regarding the people in their lives. Your cousin may insist that her dog will not be any trouble. You’ll have to be firm and say, “It just won’t work out for us this time.”
Dear Amy: “To Tell or Not” asked whether to disclose sexual abuse she experienced as a child 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 was extremely difficult because I didn’t understand why she held back emotionally.
With the eventual help of a good therapist, she was able to share this vital part of her life.
Of course, I hurt for her. The result of having that knowledge and trust is that we have had a strong, loving, amazing marriage.
— Grateful Husband
Dear Grateful: I’m so touched by your account. Thank you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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