Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
One of my friends applied for a job where the wife of a very good
friend works. When I heard that from the mutual friend I
spontaneously piped up, “Oh I know some who works there.” I said it
in my reflexive good-natured helping anyone I know way, not thinking
through the implications of the fact that the wife of the very good
friend is somewhat jealous of our friendship. Her suppressed jealousy
is only subliminally legit and neither of us would ever do anything
about it, though it does make her vulnerable to teasing. The person I
spoke to told the applicant who left me a voicemail pleading me to
“Put in a good word,” because she’s “been out of work for months and
really wants this job.” It turns out she’d already interviewed, with the
wife! Now I feel stuck. I don’t want the person not to get the job
because the wife harbors ill feeling towards me. But if she does get the
job and finds out I didn’t put in a good work I look bad too.
Dear Now What:
Think short run and long run. In the long run, learn to keep your
mouth closed until you think through a given situation. You sound like
someone who’s trying to have everyone like you, and who goes out of
her way to create opportunities to be useful. That’s a great trait,
except when it backfires. I’m glad you’re sufficiently self-aware to
realize that there’s a dark underbelly to some relationships. In this
case the hidden, or not-so- hidden, emotions could hurt an innocent
bystander instead of you.
I would tell the applicant, the mutual friend, and your good friend
exactly the same thing. That you would like to give a strong positive
recommendation to the applicant. But qualify it saying that you only
want it relayed to the wife if your good word is a plus, not a minus.
One thing that helps you in these times is that it’s rare for any one
individual to hold the final sway in who gets hired. Scarce resources
usually mean that applicants need to please and serve many masters. Though your desire to be helpful is commendable, next time think
before you speak.