Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: A co-worker of mine is getting married and invited me to her wedding. I sent what I thought was a nice gift off her registry that cost about $60. We are in the same role at our office and make approximately the same amount of money (and are fairly well-compensated). However, my husband is out of work, and we have a hefty mortgage payment, a young child, and another on the way, so my financial situation is not as rosy as my salary might make it appear.
My co-worker has been loudly complaining that people in our office are not getting her "nice" gifts and that she feels many people are being very stingy. She went so far as to say that she expects them to give her another gift at the actual wedding.
This felt like a jab at me, and I'm not sure how to handle it. Just ignore? Explain my situation? Give something else? I didn't think I was being stingy, but I also am not eager to hurt what was otherwise a positive professional relationship.
Answer: The wolves who raised this woman must be so proud.
Ignore her. If you weren't yoked together at an office, I'd advise the great friendship (or acquaintanceship) rethink. Since you are colleagues, I suggest sticking to whatever your original plan was for the wedding. You intended the gift as her wedding gift, so you're done; no bonus gift is necessary. If you were planning to go to the wedding, then go, and if you weren't, then don't. As I said, change nothing about your plans, as if her ugly, greedy sentiments were never expressed.
They were, of course, and you will have to keep them in mind outside the context of the wedding. I don't think it's an overreaction to view her now as someone you can't trust. She revealed her character with her appalling complaint, and the news is grim. Keep things pleasant and positive but know the asterisk is there.
You also probably want to give some thought to your reflexive impulse to offer yourself up as wolf food. This isn't about 60 bucks, it's about who runs your life. You, not the tantrum-thrower du jour, are the one who decides how you spend your money, effort and time.
Question: Carolyn, that's a terrible insult to all wolves.
In my experience $60 is extremely generous for a gift from a co-worker, unless (s)he is a friend outside of work also - not just the occasional weekday lunch, but socializing on evenings and weekends, too.
If this were my colleague, my poor Aunt Suzanne would fall and break her hip, and no other caretaker could be available, sadly, on the exact date of the wedding, so I'd have no choice but to visit to care for her that weekend.
Answer: You're right. I owe an apology to wolves. I learned a lot today, and I will work toward redeeming myself in the eyes of the wolf community, which has been unwavering in its support of this column.