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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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Mulled Whine
2006-05-11 15:26
by Jon Weisman

In this great big cruel world of ours, if someone does something that is wrong but ultimately harmless, do you tell that person, or let it go?

I've had several of these lately, and I'm having something of an existential crisis about dealing with them.

2006-05-11 15:43:39
1.   Bob Timmermann
Wrong in a legal sense or wrong in a moral or ethical sense?

We all do things that are "wrong" every day? Even without trying or possibly noticing.

Since you notice that somebody is doing something that you judge to be wrong, then it must fairly significant.

2006-05-11 15:44:45
2.   Marty
Is this a blog issue, or real life?
2006-05-11 15:50:40
3.   Gilgamesh
While the subject's action may be wrong but harmless, yours could end up right but harmful. I wouldn't act unless I knew it would have a positive effect.
2006-05-11 15:52:16
4.   Jon Weisman
Real life.

Example 1. I get an e-mail from a company asking me to write, to oversimplify things, a kind of recommendation for a longtime friend of mine. Based on the questions, the thing is likely to take (and ended up taking) half an hour. I have three days' notice to complete it.

Meanwhile, my friend hasn't called me in at least six months to even chat, let alone tell me that this is coming. (I was the last to initiate contact between us.) I'm ticked off that I'm expected to give my time toward this when he's giving no time to our friendship.

I felt like blowing the thing off, felt like telling my friend I couldn't do it, felt like telling my friend I wouldn't do it. But I did it today, and haven't spoken to him about it.

2006-05-11 15:52:47
5.   Underbruin
Cut off his hands.

Hey, it worked in days gone by...

2006-05-11 15:53:28
6.   Jon Weisman
Translation: High school never ends.
2006-05-11 15:55:52
7.   Underbruin
4 - Oh, if that's the sort of thing... Well, you could still cut off his hands.

Alternatively, I think it's something that does merit mentioning. Your friend put you in an unfair position - not necessarily one that is overly burdensome, but unfair nonetheless. I think it's the sort of situation where he should be made to understand, in gentle phrasings of course, that while you're happy to help him out (which you did do, by completing his recommendation), it's better for the both of you if he lets you know about such things in advance (it's up to your discretion whether you wish to discuss with him his chosing you as a reference despite no contact for a half year).

2006-05-11 15:56:32
8.   Underbruin
7 - *choosing, not chosing
2006-05-11 15:57:51
9.   Bob Timmermann
I have never been asked to write a letter of recommendation or give a job reference for anyone.


I guess my opinion isn't valuable.

2006-05-11 16:00:29
10.   Marty
If he's really a long-time friend, then I would cut him some slack. But you make it sound like you are not that close, just have known each other for awhile.

I have two friends that I've known since third grade. We don't speak for months, but I wouldn't hesitate to help them out with something like this. I'd also get on the phone and chide them for not giving a heads-up. It's a very comfortable relationship. We know each other's faults and never pass up an opportunity to remind each other of them.

2006-05-11 16:01:54
11.   Jon Weisman
7 - If he had been in contact with me, I wouldn't have cared about not getting any warning about the rec.
2006-05-11 16:03:43
12.   Jon Weisman
10 - We've been friends for, man, 25 years. I guess the answer is just to make sure I'm sounding easy-going and not bitter in discussing it.
2006-05-11 16:05:58
13.   Underbruin
11 - Ah, got it.

Well, like I said before, there's always the hands thing.

2006-05-11 16:08:32
14.   Curtis Lowe
I would have him buy you lunch and make sure to give him a hard time but in a jovial manner. 25yrs is a long time and you should in know way feel bad for doing him a favor.
Just make sure he buys you lunch.
2006-05-11 16:09:46
15.   Curtis Lowe
know = no.
2006-05-11 16:39:04
16.   Xeifrank
Painting with a broad paint brush here... but I probably wouldn't hesitate to do it if it was only 1/2 an hour and it was a good friend and more than just a casual acquaintance. I did something like this recently for a friend that I don't talk to too often, but the reason we don't talk that often is that we both have busy family lives and live 30 miles apart. The three days notice thing may have been out of his control (who knows???). I would always cut friends slack, and hopefully he will be polite enough to thank you for taking the time to help him out! People who don't give thanks for favors often find less and less favors being done for them in the future.
vr, Xei
2006-05-11 16:40:12
17.   Bob Timmermann
I advocate holding a grudge against this person for the rest of your life.

Then write it in your will that this person can't come to your funeral if you predecease him.

2006-05-11 16:57:18
18.   FirstMohican
When you said "...if someone does something that is wrong but ultimately harmless," the first thing that came to my mind was someone wildly swerving into an intersection without looking, but hitting nobody. If you'd left 3 seconds earlier, you would've been toast. You're fine but you still want to honk and let them know how terrible a driver they are.

I don't think its "harmless" what your friend did, because clearly it has made you question how he views you. I'm probably on the same page as #16.

2006-05-11 18:51:48
19.   Linkmeister
Call him up. Tell him he owes you lunch in return for all the terrible things you could have said in that recommendation but didn't.
2006-05-11 19:36:26
20.   BruceR
9 Gee, Bob, I have always valued your opinion and am looking for a job, so I was gonna ask if I could use you as a reference. But in light of 17 I'm not so sure anymore.

/ searches for will /

2006-05-11 19:45:22
21.   Andrew Shimmin
I'm with Bob.

But, barring a good, hard grudge (which you've already ruined by doing the favor), you sort of have to let it go. There's no way to bring it up without its seeming petty, because people who do things like this tend (to a one) to be hypersensitive about having any fault seen in it.

This isn't the first time his sense of entitlement has irritated you, right? Gratitude is the highest human emotion. Well, second highest--nothing beats vengeance.

2006-05-11 20:20:26
22.   Suffering Bruin
Tough call.

I probably would've called the guy before writing the letter. "Hey, I just got this on very little notice... anything particular you want me to say? Call me because I need to know before I send this out. Oh, and it will be good to hear from you."

You can still follow up with a phone call now, Jon. You can say, "I just sent out the letter and I hope it works out. Let me know what happens because it'll be good to hear from you."

It's frustating and I'm sorry you're going through it. I hope it works out for the best.

2006-05-11 20:33:09
23.   Andrew Shimmin
There's always the Icaros/D4P Soultion™: sleep with his wife. Or the Seinfeld Corollary: tell him that you slept with his wife.
2006-05-11 20:36:44
24.   Jon Weisman
Although this got into specifics rather quickly, I sort of meant the whole thing generally. But basically the thing seems to be, find a positive way to deal with it or let it go.
2006-05-11 20:36:58
25.   Jon Weisman
23 - LOL
2006-05-11 21:14:55
26.   Kayaker7
You're having problems dealing with this, because you are genuinely hurt. Guys have problems saying things like, "I am hurt that you have not contacted me in months, then expect a favor from me. To add insult to injury, you did not even give me advance notice." The recipient of that kind of tack would feel a bit icky about the baring of emotions.

So, among guys, you have to lighten it up a little bit. Cover up the hurt just a tad with some feigned anger. Just act annoyed, but in a light sort of way, and say, "What?! You don't contact me for months, and you expect a favor from me? Okay, I'll do it this time, but you owe me big." Just convey the hurt/annoyance with the tone, and he should get the message, and you've got something off your chest. Plus, you come off as the big man by still doing the favor, and not being petty.

If a similar situation arises again, then you ignore the request, and he'll know why. It's up to him to right the imbalance he's created in the universe.

2006-05-11 21:31:34
27.   Andrew Shimmin
26- You're reading this differently from the way I am. I don't see pain, I see irritation/mild anger/righteous indignation. It's the proper response to bad manners. That's why it's troublesome; there are only three solutions: letting it go, the extraction of vengeance, and excommunication. Of the three, letting it go requires the least effort. And, since we all know that Jon is famous for phoning it in. . .
2006-05-12 01:03:06
28.   dan reines
Let it go this time. Could be an honest mistake. For instance, maybe he put in for a job a year ago, and the HR department just dug him up and sent out to you for references. He might not even have any idea about it.

Not likely, perhaps. But entirely possible. In which case, it's not the poor guy's fault.

I know the feeling when an old friend just isn't putting in the effort to maintain the friendship. Hardly puts you in the mood to give of your valuable time. But stewing about it only hurts you -- it doesn't bother him none...

2006-05-12 06:08:53
29.   brandesh
How about, "Man, you gotta warn me when stuff like this comes up. I'm happy to help you but I don't know what's going on with you these days. We have not spoken in six months." over your normal lines of communication.
2006-05-12 10:04:25
30.   Daniel Zappala
Good to see that sanity prevails on Dodger Thoughts. Life is to short to be upset and to risk a long-time friendship. Call and have a nice chat. Do unto others ...
2006-05-12 12:41:18
31.   Sushirabbit
Hey, I've been know to fly off the handle for harmless stuff.

On the other hand, I've had companies pull a resume submitted 10 months ago and call me up. Still at some point he should have let you know that it might be a possibility.

2006-05-12 12:48:51
32.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
On the general thought: I think it depends upon two things:
1) What kind of relationship you have with the wrong-doer
2) If anything good can come out of informing the wrong-doer about your observation/experience.

Example: someone cuts you off in a dangerous swerve. You have no relationship with this person, but giving him/her the finger can't make anything good come out of it, since he/she did this without caring to begin with and is most likely just going to flip you off right back, so you'll both be unhappy. (Or, more likely, he/she is on the phone and won't notice your long, ugly finger).

In your specific case:
Since you have a friendship to think about, you need to consider what good can come out of saying anything. Possibilities:
1) Use it as an opportunity to deepen the friendship: ("hey, I wrote you this recommendation which surprised me. Tell me what's up in your life these days, and by the way, I'd prefer the heads-up next time!")
2) Use it as an opportunity to put the friendship on notice: ("hey, jerkwad. Don't you know better than to list someone as a reference without telling them first? I don't know what you're looking for and haven't spoken to you in six months, so how am I supposed to react? You better think first about being my friend and second about using me...")
3) Use it as an opportunity to distance yourself from someone with boorish behavior: don't write the recommendation, don't call him, and pretend, the next time he talks to you, to vaguely remember 'getting an email about something...'

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