Dear Amy: I work in a department with about 20 people.
“Jo” was recently fired.
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, commiserating and offering support.
Meanwhile, my coworker, “Hannah,” is having her first child.
A group of us helped get a gift for her.
Today, the person who arranged the gift received a text from Jo, asking for her contribution towards the baby’s gift back.
We’ve already paid back Jo’s contribution (in the $20 range), but most of us think asking for money back on a baby gift is tacky and even a little petty.
Hannah had nothing to do with Jo getting fired, and I know Jo and Hannah were close at work. Jo had even signed the card before she left and she wrote Hannah a very kind message – a message that Hannah won’t see as we all feel we should replace the card, now!
The whole incident changed many people’s opinion about Jo. Some people are having second thoughts about giving references for Jo for this reason.
Was Jo definitely out of place or should we give this person some slack?
– Puzzled gift giver
Bewildered Dear: My first thought is that ‘Jo’ is in a spiral and may suddenly be very worried about finances. It’s not necessarily rational for Jo to believe that getting this $20 back will substantially affect the outcome, yet when your work situation has suddenly changed, the immediate choices aren’t always rational.
My next thought is that Jo is hurt and bitter. Wounded plus bitter equals mean. And yes, the meanness of this person is out of place. Meanness always is.
Of course this will affect your opinion of your former colleague, yet my experience tells me that you will almost never regret cutting someone a bit of slack, especially when they are hurt and acting out.
Think of it this way: Once you allow slack, you can always “ease” 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 fired, but using this episode as a reason to decline a recommendation would, in my opinion, also be petty.
Dear Amy: A close cousin of mine just got her first dog (after a life as a cat).
I am very happy for my cousin because honestly this puppy is downright adorable, well behaved and cute all round.
When she first got the dog, we were planning an outdoor picnic and she asked if she could bring her puppy. Naturally, we said yes. Her puppy charmed everyone and the visit went very well. Afterwards, we hosted another (very small) event on our porch. The pup showed up and again, the visit went quite smoothly.
We are planning to host our first largest indoor gathering since he got 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 go back.
Dear Uncertain: Like many people, I’ve acquired a “pandemic puppy” who is also adorable and a real crowd pleaser. And while my dog is of the portable variety and has been welcome in each other’s homes, I assume any guest’s preference is to not have a visit from the dog. I know because I wouldn’t want to host a guest’s dog at an indoor gathering.
You will have to train your cousin. Simply tell her, “We enjoy your dog, but since we’re having a larger indoor gathering this time, we hope you can safely leave the pup 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 her dog won’t be a problem. You will need to be firm and say, “This time it won’t work for us.”
Dear Amy: “To Tell or Not” asked whether to disclose the 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.
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The first six years of our marriage were extremely difficult because I didn’t understand why he was holding back emotionally.
With the eventual help of a good therapist, she was able to share this vital part of her life.
Of course, I suffered for her. The result of having that knowledge and trust is that we have had a strong, loving, and amazing marriage.
– Grateful husband
Dear Grateful: I am so moved by your account. Thank you.
©2022 Amy Dickinson.