Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Real Talk With Rachel: Surprise in a Paycheck; Holding a Grudge

by Rachel Kurzius

Dear Rachel,

I work in a small coffee shop. My latest paycheck is about $75 more than what I’ve ever been paid. I know it’s a mistake, but I would like to keep the money. My manager is pretty nice, so I feel a little bad, but it was her mistake that landed me with the money. Can I justify keeping the money?

Bigger Tip Than Expected

Dear Bigger Tip Than Expected,

You can justify just about anything, so skilled is the mind for aerobatics of that kind. However, that doesn’t always mean you should.

If I were in your position, I would tell the manager about the mistake. I know that sounds very high and mighty, but think about it this way: your manager will be very grateful for your honesty. Don’t expect the manager to let you keep the money as a reward for your honesty, but having the trust of your boss could help you reap rewards in the future -- everything from better shifts to positions with greater responsibility and therefore dollars-per-hour.

Also, the mistake might not go unnoticed. Especially when your manager
decides to do some bookkeeping, she might trace back the missing $75 to you and even demand that you return it. So if you do keep that money, I suggest you not spend it for a while.

Because I’ve never worked in food services, I asked a couple of friends who have doled out lattes behind the counter about your predicament. One told me that a restaurant she worked at almost five years ago still owes her nearly a thousand dollars. “Don’t depend on good treatment from your boss at these places,” she advised.

Still, she mentioned that she always got a bad feeling from the owner of that restaurant, while you say your manager is “pretty nice.” You need to weigh the manager’s competence in finding the mistake and the potential benefits you could get from returning it.



Dear Rachel,

I am a woman in her mid-thirties with a large group of friends. As we’ve gotten older and spread out geographically, we don’t see one another as frequently. A few months ago, I felt as though one of the women treated me rudely when she visited Washington, DC as part of the group. In the interest of keeping the peace during the visit, I didn’t bring it up. I find myself still annoyed and resentful about her behavior. My friends are all meeting soon, and I am not sure how to treat this woman. Is it too late to bring up her behavior?

Still Stewing

Dear Still Stewing,

While it was nice of you to try and preserve the peace at the cost of your own feelings, look what happened: you’ve been left with a bitter taste in your mouth for months. That’s why I’m a big advocate of timely conversations about small interactions that go awry.

If you had pulled her aside at the time of the rude treatment and explained how her behavior made you feel, you might not feel the lingering sense of hurt that you do.

But alas, you didn’t. So while your friend probably has no recollection of how she acted, you’re treating yourself to daily mental replays. First off, stop doing that. Instead of focusing on your anger towards one person, think about your excitement about seeing your large group of friends. Surely, you are more excited about meeting up with everyone than you are angry with her.

I do believe that there are statutes of limitation on confronting minor grievances. Bring it up when it’s relevant, or forget it.

Remember, you still call her your friend. I’m sure she has a lot of great qualities that, if you just let yourself think about them, will outshine her odd behavior those many months ago.

But maybe it’s the case that she and you just don’t get along. That’s also a natural dynamic in large groups of friends. Since you’re going to be getting together with so many people, you can pretty much avoid spending much time with her on an individual basis.

My number one piece of advice: don’t let an odd interaction months ago
discolor your visit with cherished friends.



Rachel Kurzius revels in giving advice, and has provided counsel both as a columnist and a friend. She lives in Washington DC, where she works as a news producer. Real Talk with Rachel is published on All Life is Local and the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.comon Wednesdays. Need advice? You can write to Rachel at advice @ fastmail dot net.

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