The Sticking Point
I chair the community relations committee for a nonprofit group. A woman, who’s a pretty good friend and a good committee member, has told me that she hasn’t had her shots. I’m alarmed, since I know that she’s had open-heart surgery. I didn’t want to ask her any questions, so I suggested that she think twice about getting inoculated. She said that she’d already thought about it more than twice. She’s asked me if I want her to stay on the committee. How do I answer her question? I’m afraid, no matter what happens. — Anonymous, Gallatin
You’ve chosen not to ask any questions, but your friend has one for you. She’s got you caught by asking you, as the committee chair, to tell her what to do. But now that she’s asked, you’ll have to find an answer. She’s not being duplicitous; she’s the one who brought up the inoculation issue. It’s not your job to drive her to the health department for her shots, but it’s your responsibility, at least as a friend, to say you’re concerned about her health and the health of others. Your “community relations” committee, after all, must have “relations,” of some sort, with the community at large. Here are two options: You can ask her to take some time off from the committee until she’s had her vaccinations or you can leave the decision to her. You already know the decision she’s likely to make, don’t you? Or do you? Ask her or tell her. These are tough times, and this is a tough issue. You have to live with yourself and with your own words, not with her reaction.
Hard To Swallow
A couple of weeks back, my husband and I were invited to dinner at the home of new friends. The hostess called and asked if we could eat shrimp. She said she was asking just to be careful. There’s nothing that either of us can’t eat, but I loathe shrimp. So I lied and told her that both of us are allergic to shrimp. When we got to the table, it turned out that shrimp was just the first course. Everybody else ate it, but she set down some fruit and cheese for the two of us. My husband was confused. On the way home, he said I did the wrong thing. I felt odd about the whole situation, but did I do anything wrong? — Anonymous, Brentwood
The hostess asked if you “could” eat shrimp, not if you “would” eat shrimp. When she called, she was obviously hoping to forestall a trip to the emergency room. You fudged when it came to telling the truth, but she came up with something to go on your plates for starters. You could have pushed the shellfish around on your plate; nobody would have noticed. But when his fruit plate showed up, your husband did. You told a white lie, and you ended up with a little crisis of comestible conscience. Be glad the entrée wasn’t shrimp. Telling the truth is always wise. Just how much cheese and crackers can the two of you handle?