Guilt remains 40 years after job reference was withheld

Published 12:00 pm Friday, August 7, 2020

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DEAR ABBY: About 40 years ago, I did someone an injustice, and I have felt guilty ever since. I worked for a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., that fired an accounting clerk who was in my small office. I didn’t know why she was fired, and I never heard a cross word exchanged between her and her supervisor. She seemed to be capable and friendly.
A prospective employer called me for a reference, and because my company told me that it did not respond to requests for references, I didn’t give her one. Ever since, I have wished I had shared what I knew about her. If I was allowed a do-over, I would have told the employer about my positive experience with her and my belief that she was capable and friendly. Her being Black and not having my reference may have increased her difficulty in finding a job. I am sharing this with your readers so they may avoid making a similar mistake. — GUILT-RIDDEN IN TEXAS
DEAR GUILT-RIDDEN: Some companies, on the advice of their legal counsel, strictly adhere to a policy of disclosing only dates of hire and discharge of employees. This has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It was not a mistake to do as your employers instructed, and you should not feel guilty for having done so.
DEAR ABBY: My heart is heavy as I write this. Since the pandemic started, my father-in-law has called us every couple of weeks to ask if we are safe and OK. I have heard nothing from my own father.
I finally called him, mentioning that I thought he would call to check on us. His response was, “I’m the adult; you should be checking on me.” (I have two grown children and two grandchildren, so I was taken aback by the thought that I was not an “adult.”) I mentioned that because he is not in a nursing home, in jail or has to go to work, I figured he was much safer than my husband and me, who still must go out to work every day and be in contact with hundreds of people.
I feel like my father doesn’t care about us like my father-in-law does. What do you think? — DISAPPOINTED IN FLORIDA
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I agree that your father doesn’t care about you the same way your father-in-law does. He appears to be so centered upon himself that there’s little room to worry about his “children’s” welfare.
What do I think? I think that if you love your father, you should give him an occasional call, but when you do, expect nothing in return. And you should thank your lucky stars you have a darling father-in-law who takes up the slack.
DEAR ABBY: I have two close, dear friends. They’re my inner circle. Both are extroverts and quite talkative. I’m an introvert and quieter. My problem is, I can’t get a word in edgewise when we’re together. I’m not sure how to tactfully address this subject with them. Any ideas? — INTROVERT IN THE SOUTHWEST
DEAR INTROVERT: Yes. Speak up and say exactly what you told me -—- “Hey, folks, I can’t get a word in edgewise!” If you say it with a smile, it shouldn’t be regarded as insulting because it’s the truth.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.comor P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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