DEAR AMY: Several years ago my supervisor, “Mary,” asked me to help her move to a new home. I was happy to assist her with my truck to load up boxes and furniture, etc. When we finished with the move, Mary asked if I wanted an antique hall “clothes tree” as a thank you for my helping. She said the hall tree was too big for her new place, and wanted me to have it. I gladly accepted this very generous gift, and it occupies a special place in my home. However, last week Mary contacted me, stating that she has always regretted giving me the hall tree. She said that it has very sentimental value for her and asked if I would please return it. I have not responded to this odd request and am at a loss as to what to do. I would never think of giving a gift and then years later, ask to have the gift back. I now feel somewhat guilty. Should I give it back? I retired from my job in 2012 and have had very little contact with Mary since retiring. Mary’s request really troubles me. Your take?
DEAR RETIRED: It is fairly ridiculous of “Mary” to ask for this piece of furniture back, all these years after giving it to you. You would be completely justified in telling her, “I’m sorry you regret giving this to me, but I have possessed it for many years and I intend to keep it.”
However — and this is a big however — you are obviously a thoughtful and kind person (I know this because you stepped up to help her move). I have a feeling that — now that Mary has unfairly imposed this upon you — you might not enjoy having this item in your house.
Give it a few weeks. If Mary has ruined your ability to enjoy this possession, contact her: “Your request to take back this clothes tree has ruined my enjoyment of it. So — let me know when you’ll come by to get it, and I’ll leave it on the porch.” Do not bring it to her.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I run a small business in another state. We run our business remotely with the help of an amazing employee of more than seven years. She has expressed a desire to visit Southern California (where we live) and enjoy a certain theme park’s new ride area. We were planning to give her this trip for Christmas, but she’s quite “weight-challenged,” and after reading many blogs about this specific attraction, it seems that overweight people are often denied the ride she most wants to be on, and in an embarrassing fashion. The park itself doesn’t publish weight restrictions on their website. We’re worried our employee might be turned away. I don’t want her to think we’re being cheap, as we’ve talked about the possibility of her coming a few times — but outside of sharing these blog posts with her, how can I express to her that I’m concerned she would have the worst time of her life, as others have relayed in their posts?
DEAR STYMIED: It seems possible that — out of your benign concern to your employee — you are overthinking this by a mile. If she is competent enough to run your business for you and brave enough to want to visit this theme park, then perhaps you should trust her to use her own judgment and discernment regarding her physical challenges.
One way around this dilemma would be for you to give her enough money to use for a trip to Southern California, as well as the time off to use it. Tell her, “We know you want to come for a visit, and we’d like to encourage you to do so, although the ultimate choice is yours. If you decide to visit, we will make sure you get the time off, and would love to see you.”
DEAR AMY: I was amused by the letter from “Left Out,” whose in-laws always host a holiday celebration on Sunday, preventing her adult son (who lives far away) from attending, because he would have to miss work on a Monday in order to travel. Because this is known literally a year in advance, can’t her son ask for a Monday off?
DEAR CHUCKLING: Yes, this is the obvious solution. But it seemed to me that “Left Out” would rather feel wounded.