Ask Alma: An unfair request


— Dear Alma,

I’m a single mother supporting my three children with no help from my ex-husband. I am thankful to have a great job that I like very much. I referred my BFF’s husband to the company who has since become a regular employee and he is very happy here as well. Once you pass the 90 day probation, the employee who referred you is given a referral bonus. My friend’s husband recently approached me and said boldly in my face that he expects me to split the money with him. Needless to say, I was shocked. My BFF has a full time job and they know it’s just me caring for my kids. I’m not sure how to handle him and maintain our friendship. What should I do?

E.S., Jackson, Miss.

Dear E.S.,

Double-check your forehead. Did you miss seeing “sucker” tattooed between your eyebrows when you washed the sleep from your eyes this morning? LOL. Now, double, double-check the conversations between the two of you, replaying them in your mind’s eye. Did you fist bump on an agreement in advance? You know how it goes when you’re fast talking, excited and all. For example, when discussing the vacancy, did you jokingly say, “If you get hired, I’ll split the bonus with you.” That’s the only reason I can see him expecting a few coins heading his way.

In all honesty, I don’t get the feeling that’s what happened here. You didn’t mention it did, in your very detailed email. Seems to me, you feel like you’re caught between a rock (your BFF) and a hard place (her husband), not wanting to disturb the friendship. That’s kool, I understand. This incident isn’t a reason for this friendship to be shaken. If anything, he’s trying to take advantage of the relationship. Because he is your BFF’s husband, dismiss him. You owe him nothing! Don’t allow him to manipulate and get you all in a tizzy. Stand tall, shoulders straight, pumps pointed forward, ready to deal with him directly. Say it once, you don’t even need to practice. This should come off as sweet as pineapple pie. Repeat after me “I’m not splitting any money with you.” That’s it, don’t ever discuss it again. You don’t owe him a reason, excuse or justification for your response. Nope, nada, nothing. Let me remind you that in this economy, jobs are tough to come by. The best reference anyone can have is an employee, who’s a friend that already works for the company. His act of appreciation should be nothing more than, “Thank you for helping me get a job,” cause that my friend, is priceless.


Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.