Monday, December 08, 2008


This morning I received an e-mail from a friend and former co-worker, forwarding an e-mail from another former co-worker -- one I do not like. In this e-mail she relayed the news that her mother had died unexpectedly and asking for prayers in this difficult time.

Now my normal response to news like this is to immediately say a small prayer and then to jot off a note expressing my sympathies and asking if there is anything I could do for them or their family.

But I don't like this woman. And I have many good reasons for not liking her. Among them is the fact that when my mother was dieing of cancer, she used my absences from work as an opportunity to stab me in the back with the powers-that-be, writing e-mails to partners about how my absence was making things difficult for others. (Which meant that instead of doing nothing all day, my absence meant she actually had to work for a living.) And when my mother died she never said so much as an "I'm sorry for your loss." She didn't acknowledge my loss in any way.

I'd like to say that I have been able to call upon my better nature and say that prayer and dash off a note with a couple of consoling lines. I came up with "I hope you know what it feels like to have people around you talk about you behind your back, kick you while you are down, all while ignoring the death of your mother. And please pass on my regards to your sister. Is she still trying to convince people her son was a virgin birth? And if you really want to be taken seriously as a Mary Kay consultant, maybe you should do something about your beard."

But something tells me that isn't a good letter to send.

Like I said, I am not a nice person.


Leslie said...

It's none of my business, but you know that the appropriate (grown up) thing to do would be to send a little note "Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your mother" and to say the little prayer. You are a bigger person than she and you can well afford to do this.

No, I'm not your mother but I'm someone who has been in the same place and knows the feeling of shame for not being able to overcome the smallness of my heart. Besides, how would you want Norbert to act in this situation? You'd want him to be a mensch, right? So...

organizer2003 said...

um. Leslie, I disagree with you. It is PERFECTLY appropriate to say nothing in response to the email, since Aidan no longer works there, and particularly since both parties are well aware of the dislike between them. It would inappropriate to send the email Aidan composed.

Aidan, in my book you are a very nice person. If you were not a nice person, you would have sent that email already. ^_^


BertandFelix said...


I was in a similar situation this past year....must be a paralegal thing.

My co-worker's father passed and she was out for about 2 months. During the leave...I saw her at a pizza place eating dinner with friends. She was supposed to be in St. Louis with her family. The first thing she said to me "Oh, I am only in for the weekend." She isn't a nice person but I sooo wanted to tell people I saw her...and didn't.

Cheri said...

I don't think that you're obligated to do a thing. You no longer work with this person, you're not friends with her. Do you send her holiday cards? If not then ignore the email, and don't feel guilty.

coastofcalifornia said...


YOU seem like (long-time lurker here. I feel like I know you, but of course, we've never met) a nice person to me. You adore your family, cherish your friends, and are kind to strangers in need. I know this about you. It's in your word-stories.

The ex-coworker? Not so much.

Leslie- being a mensch has NOTHING to do with playing the fool.

Diane said...

Well since you got a forwarded email from your friend I'm assuming that it was more of a fyi to let you know that a former coworker's mom had passed away. I don't think any action is required on your part at all.

Don't feel bad about not saying or sending any words of comfort to this woman. Better to be true to yourself than be fake.

Anonymous said...

"Better be true to yourself than be fake"

Roger that...