Do Gooder

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a new friend, W, who’s also new to town. He’s post-divorce,

tight for money, and living in an apartment after having relinquished a

home and a full life. He’s cooped up in an apartment house with lots of

students and going a little nutzy from the noise and constant tumult.

Another friend, O, casual now but with potential is leaving for Israel

next week with her husband, M, about whom I am much more

lukewarm, but who might be good friendship material for W. I asked O

if they had a house-sitter and she said No. I suggested we get

together for tea so they could interview W, so if they liked him he

could serve in that role for them, no money but access to more than a

studio apt. If anything goes awry, say he breaks something or there’s

a break-in, am I liable?

Do Gooder


Dear Do Gooder:

It’s good that you’re trying to help all concerned. And also good to pay

attention to the downsides as well as the upsides. Go out of your way

to make sure they interview him, not just tell him sure on your say-so

alone. Make it clear they can say no. It should be their decision, after

having met him and sized him up, even at the gut instinct level that

one can and should do in an hour sharing a cup of tea meeting. If they

do decide to have him stay there, they should supply the same kind of

detailed instructions they’d leave for any house sitter: names and

numbers of all the relevant folks, from veterinarians to plumbers, as

well as notes and posits about quirky faucets, when the garbage gets

set out, etc.

You can volunteer to be on call if there’s a problem. If necessary,

assuming you cannot get ahold of your friends, you can even try and

second guess what your friends would like done in an emergency. If

you end up laying out money it is always at risk. But realistically, if

something goes terribly awry, you’re more likely to be seen as the

hero than the goat if you help fix it. Make sure your friend does the

laundry and cleans up, vacuums, cleans the kitchen and bathroom,

etc. To really ace the deal, he should leave them a nice thank you

note and a bottle of wine. Maybe they’ll invite him back when they

travel again.