Someone wrote to Washington Post advice columnist Carolyn Hax today about an unwanted adventure:
I am writing because my husband and I are facing a huge dilemma. He cannot find a job in the United States. He recently got a job offer in Asia and wants us to go. I have conflicting emotions about this, as I do not speak the language and feel it would be very isolating for me. I would be leaving all my family and friends. We have no kids, and my husband thinks now is the time to take a risk. Any advice?
“Conflicting emotions”? The only evident emotions are negative ones, specifically fear of loneliness and the unfamiliar. And that’s totally fair. Big changes, like living abroad, are not for everyone. Perhaps the LW is an introvert and requires the support of the family and friends s/he would be leaving behind. S/he doesn’t mention a job but it might also be hard to earn money abroad, and not having the structure of work in a foreign place can be doubly daunting.
Wouldn’t Prudie and the Ethicist be a good name for a band? Anyway. Someone wrote a letter to Slate’s Dear Prudence with a question that they should have pointed our way:
My good friend has found her mate after several failed relationships and is desperate to be married and start her family (tick tock). I am thrilled that she is engaged, and she has asked me to be in the wedding. I would normally be pleased to do so, except for one issue. She has debt of approximately $250,000 in credit cards and student loans, and she has not told her fiancé about this. I feel strongly that she is morally and ethically required to tell him before they are married, but she refuses. I can’t help but feel like an accomplice to her dishonesty by standing up in the wedding. What is the right thing to do? —Silent Accomplice
Prudie tells SA that she’s right to be squicked out: her “good” friend is perpetrating a fraud.
debt like this is something that simply must be revealed before two people wed. Keeping from your intended painful news, like a diagnosis of major illness, a previous incarceration, or the fact that you are dead broke (and not Hillary Clinton dead broke), means starting a life together based on an implicit lie.
Startlingly, Prudie does not suggest that SA write the clueless fiance an anonymous letter suggesting he follow the money. I wish we knew whether the bride were hiding financial truths from the groom or straight out lying. Either way, marriages have been based on deceit since the beginning of time. Years shaved off of ages, ex-wives forgotten, goats gone unaccounted for, paternity fudged. This can be seen as just another strike against the Wedding Industrial Complex, the societal idiocy that drives us to get married at all costs, often literally. Audits and prenups for all! Or don’t get married. That’s cool too.
Meanwhile, at the Ethicist’s lair …
So I am two years into my first real, official, post-college big kid job. I like the job, and have learned a lot from it, but advancement potential is limited so the search has begun for job number 2. I am casually looking, seeing what is out there and only really applying to potential perfect/dream job. The problem is that a lot of these places require references, and my references that apply to relevant job experience are all at my current job. I don’t know what to do! I know using references without informing them is obviously not a great call, but it is awkward to inform supervisors and coworkers that I am using them as a reference … and am therefore thinking about leaving. If I was seriously looking, with a distinct timeline and real reason beyond “I’m ready to move on! Kind of. Eventually.” I might be more comfortable doing it. To be honest, more money would keep me here longer, though I have asked for a raise and been denied due to vague “financial issues.” (The raise request was legitimate — I permanently took on a departing coworkers duties in addition to my own, and my supervisor advocated for me. Some shady HR business went down involving fudging my job duties to prevent me from getting a title change or raise — not great). I don’t want threatening to leave to be seen as a ploy to get more money, and I don’t think of it that way! I just need a change.
To complicate things further, there have been several dramatic departures from my place of employment (6 people, a quarter of our staff) in the past few months. Everyone is stretched thin, and if I was to leave, that would stretch everyone further. I doubt that any of my references would sabotage me, but I’m sure that they aren’t in the mood to provide me with a glowing reference. And if I do stay, it is awkward for people to know that I might not want to be there. The departures also makes a raise seem more likely — fewer staff to pay and we are all doing more work for at least 6 months until the jobs are filled. What do I do? Ask for another raise first? Do I apply to the jobs and tell them to contact me for references, so I’ll know if they are serious or not? Do I just use my previous references-from college and nannying jobs? Or should I just bite the bullet and tell my references that I am casually looking? Help!
Dear Casually Looking,
First of all, you’ve done a lot of things right, so CONGRATULATIONS and take a deep breath. You’ve gotten a job out of college. Yay! You’ve stayed in it about two years. Amazing! Two years for a Millennial is like five for a member of Generation X. You’ve taken on more work and asked for a raise when you felt you deserved it. That is some pro-level stuff. Now, you’re looking to move on, in part because your legitimate request for a raise was declined. That’s fair and — considering the fact that it seems like your place of employment is in a state of disarray — even wise. But who do you list as a reference?
So, let’s say an elderly relative gave you a check for five figures as part of her estate planning, essentially an advance on your inheritance. Not a hugely extravagant amount of money, but quite a goodly sum, enough for one whole month of full-time long-term care insurance.
SIDENOTE: long-term care insurance is so hilariously expensive it seems insane that it could save you money in the long term, and yet Roz Chast’s new graphic memoir about the decline and fall of both of her aged parents, culminating in having to put them in a home, would scare any reasonable person into scrambling desperately to secure some kind of safety net for themselves.
Five figures! It’s not a prize, like the Pulitzer. It’s not salary. It’s not fun money, because it’s given in the spirit of Thinking About the Future. Obviously it’s not Quit Your Job and Retire money but it’s not nothin’. What do you do with it? Buy real estate, or ice cream sandwiches, or both? Invest in something? What? Put it in your IRA, or is that too boring and conservative?
Don’t worry, my fella and I are seeing an actual Financial Planner on Friday and so will get expert advice then, but in the meantime I’m curious. WWYD?
I recently stayed with two friends while visiting their city, and to thank them I told them that I wanted to take them out for dinner.
“No, no!” they said. “We’re just happy to host you while you’re visiting!”
I planned to pay for dinner anyway, and when we went out to dinner on our last night and the check arrived, I pulled out my card and insisted on paying—but my friends ended up handing their card to our waitress and told her to just split the bill.
This may seem like a silly question, but is there a nice way of insisting on picking up the check? — B.