First World Problems: Nothing Nice To Say
First World Problems is a weekly advice column for India’s first world population. Write to Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org (confidentially!) if you’ve broken a nail, felt a little blue, yellow or green lately,
or had a strange encounter of the any-numbered kind.
PROBLEM: I’ve recently been asked to write a professional letter of recommendation for someone who used to work under me. But I wasn’t impressed with them in my own office, and don’t really think they’d be suited for the new job. I’ve been stalling — what do I do?
You’d love to but: You’re busy like they won’t believe it. Wedding in the family. Death in the family. Your left eye won’t stop twitching long enough for you to get a word out. Your right hand hurts from constantly using your trackpad, and the doctor has advised a period of rest. Sty in your eye and you just want to die. (They might appreciate the effort you put into rhyming, at the very least.) You can choose any one or stitch together a combination of the above excuses. If vagueness is more your style, I really like ‘indisposed.’ They’ll think you’re still stuck in the 80s and decide they don’t need your recommendation anyway.
Of course, there is always the straightforward route, where you tell them that you only write recommendations for people you can vouch for with your life (insert real or made-up story about how you got screwed over once for this and you’re still recovering). And unfortunately, you didn’t get to know the person well enough during their time working with you. Would they call you a bitch? Probably. But that’s what I love about bitches: They have better things to do than stall some loser who wasn’t good at his job in the first place.
PROBLEM: A good friend runs her own craft business, making beaded jewelry and the like. She always invites me when she has an exhibition or sale. Am I obligated to buy something at these things? I really hate the stuff she makes, but I want to be supportive.
What? No! Ask yourself: What if she were selling rich, creamy doughnuts instead of jewelry, while I was trying to make a healthy lifestyle change? Would I still buy and eat the doughnuts to be supportive every single time? Likewise. Also, if she’s a good friend, she probably knows it’s not your style anyway and, if you ask me, she’s the one being decidedly unsupportive by putting you under all that pressure. I can say this with some level of authority because I write novels, and this situation would be the equivalent of me expecting my very macho male friends to read chicklit simply because I wrote it. So, no, you are not obligated to buy. Showing up is being supportive enough. But if you want to help, you could probably tell some of your ‘friends’ on Facebook (discreetly, via personal message, of course) about the exhibition. I’m sure you have at least 50 people on your list whose tastes are shockingly different from your own? We all do.