Bemused readers ask novelist Nicole Galland for her take on navigating the precarious social landscape that comes with living on the Vineyard. Nicole, who grew up in West Tisbury, is known locally as the co-founder of Shakespeare For The Masses at the Vineyard Playhouse. Her combined knowledge of both this island and the world’s greatest melodramas compels her to help prevent unnecessary tragedy wherever possible. Interested in Nicole’s take on your messy Vineyard-centric ethics or etiquette question? Confidentiality ensured. Send your question to OnIsland@mvtimes.com
I’m hiring employees for a seasonal business. My friend’s kid just applied but I don’t want to hire her because (between you and me) I never liked her. Naturally my friend doesn’t know this. Aside from personal issues, I also don’t think she’d be a good match for the job. But I feel obligated to hire her. What should I do?
Dear Vineyard Haven:
You’re not obligated to do something that goes against your own interests unless perhaps her father is in the Mafia. If she’s not a good match for the job, don’t hire her. That’s an easy call. The harder call is figuring out how to break the news to both parent and child with minimal damage.
First, how harsh would honesty be? What kind of “seasonal business” is it and why don’t you think she’s a good match? If she has lots of body piercings and you manage a restaurant with a very conservative clientele, that’s probably an easy out. If she has a DUI and you run a cab company, ditto.
But if she’s relatively presentable and your business is pretty much anything except running marijuana bales, it will be hard to justify not hiring her. Is your concern more about her attitude or her aptitude? In either case, try to use the kindest possible euphemisms for rejecting her application. If you find her, for example, hopelessly self-absorbed, say that she is an introspective young lady and the job requires a level of extroverted superficiality that is beneath her. If you think she’s a space shot, express admiration for her ability to multitask and see the big picture, but explain that this position requires somebody who is tunnel-visioned with obsessive attention to detail, and she’s just not that nerdy.
You could, of course, default to the passive-aggressiveness that is common to most island nations. Pretend her application fell through the cracks and that you never saw it. Claim you thought she was applying as a joke. Find out who her worst enemy is and confess in a tone of concern to her parents that you’ve already hired that person (note: try to actually hire that person, so that you are merely being weasely and not actually dishonest).
That’s my take.
I recently joined AA. Yesterday, someone I know only from AA greeted me in public – in front of members of my family, who wanted to know who he was and how I knew him. I wanted to tell him off, but I was so shocked I couldn’t say anything. Now I’m avoiding the meeting that we both go to, because I feel like I should say something to him but I’m really uncomfortable confronting people. Plus I’m sure he thought what he did was harmless, and I don’t want to upset him. What’s the right call to make here?
I’ve never been to AA but I’m pretty sure that second A stands for “Anonymous,” not “Acknowledged” or “Attendees” or “’Allo!” I’ve noticed among friends both here and off-Island that there’s more openness here than elsewhere, but that’s an outsider’s casual observation.
Because I’m not with the program (so to speak), I’m not in a position to speak with authority on this topic. There’s a difference between giving my opinion, and speaking on behalf of an organization that I’m not a part of. So I asked a 12-stepping friend (who will remain anonymous, because that is still what the second A stands for), who kindly furnished this response:
It’s my experience that on-Island, people are pretty open about all this; other members I run into around town often give me big hugs hello. That’s not so normal off-Island, but I know from past experience that people off-Island greet each other as well, at least sometimes. AA breeds intimacy, and it would seem almost rude NOT to at least nod at a fellow member in passing, no matter where you live.
If asked, by non-program friends witnessing your encounter, who your greeter was, there are plenty of easy responses. “I met him through friends,” is a good one. If asked where: “At some gathering or other… can’t remember exactly when or where…” (Nicole’s suggestion: “At a potluck.”) If asked for his last name, “Well, you know me and names; it’s amazing I could remember his first name,” or simply, “I’m not sure I ever got it.” It would be totally bizarre for someone who had no idea I was in AA to immediately jump to the conclusion that I MUST be in AA, and that MUST have been a fellow member greeting me. They might just as well conclude that the person was a secret lover of mine that I was pretending not to know.
All that being said, AA is chock full of people with totally different views on just about everything, so I’d guess that you could ask five members about this issue and get five different responses. Maybe the best advice is ask your sponsor how to deal with this.
Dry, I hope that’s helpful. Given how small the Island is, and how strong the AA family is within it, you’re unlikely to successfully avoid this person indefinitely, so I’d consider going back to that meeting if it was otherwise a good experience for you.
That’s my take.