The other day one of my staff came to me with a money dilemma. **Nobody at work knows about this blog, so I sort of chuckled to myself when she said that she wanted to ask me a, “strange money question.”** At first I thought she was going to ask me something about the payroll, since it happened to be a payday, but the conversation took an unexpected turn.
Here’s the scenario:
“Laura” (names changed to protect identities) came to ask me my opinion about a situation. She said that a peer, “Jane” asked her to contribute money (to a pool) to help buy a plane ticket for another co-worker, “Sarah”. Per Jane, Sarah’s mom is terminally ill, lives outside of the country and may pass away shortly. Laura told me she felt a little bit awkward when Jane asked her to give money, and went silent for a minute. Not because she didn’t want to contribute, but because she didn’t know a lot about the situation.
Specifically, she had a few questions/concerns:
- Is Sarah comfortable with people knowing about her mom’s illness?
- Is Sarah comfortable with people knowing about her financial situation (assumption being that she doesn’t have the funds to purchase the ticket on her own)?
- Does Sarah know that co-workers are donating money?
- If Sarah doesn’t know that co-workers are donating money will she be upset/feel weird about it when she finds out?
I validated Laura’s concerns and voiced that I would have some of the same concerns if I had been asked to donate. And there’s the added awkwardness…Laura assumed Jane had asked me to give money too. But she didn’t! Why? I’m not sure, but don’t think I didn’t over analyze it (that’s what I’m best at).
Laura told me not to feel weird about it and rationalized that maybe Jane didn’t ask me because I’m a supervisor and he felt uncomfortable. Or maybe Jane didn’t ask me because Sarah and I aren’t that close (I really like Sarah, we just work on different teams and don’t have much interaction). Or perhaps it was just an oversight on Jane’s part that she didn’t ask me?
What came to mind for me was, “Maybe Jane didn’t ask me because co-workers think I’m
cheap frugal.” In an office where most people go out to eat, I’m one of the few employees who regularly brings my own lunch. I don’t “rock” expensive or fancy work clothes and it’s common knowledge that I use coupons and watch my spending. While I’m not embarrassed about any of those things (in fact, quite the opposite, I’m actually pretty proud of my frugality), not everyone, “gets it” or thinks it’s a good thing. But that’s OK, I’m fine with being “weird” when “weird” means I’m NOT broke.
So tell me…Have you ever been asked to donate to a cause and felt weird about it? Would you donate to a co-worker in need? Would you feel weird if co-workers were putting together a collection and you weren’t asked to donate?
Image: Simon Cunningham