To Call Out The Gimme Pig Or Not

by admin on March 12, 2013

I have a friend that is 15 years younger than me (she is a sophomore in college). We go to the same church and are in the same Bible study together. I have gone out of my way to help her financially a few times (giving her gas money to get to/from Bible study). She has also sought my advice on several occasions and has told me that she thinks of me as a “cool big sister”. When she came to my house for Bible study she told me that she thought I was a classy lady and that she wanted to be like me. This compliment really warmed my heart and I take pride in taking her “under my wing”.

She posted the following on a social media web site today:

Hey Friends & Family. My 21st Birthday is on Wednesday, and whoever would like to donate/give a gift of cash for the college student inbox me and I can give you my banking info! Thanks in advance lol. Whoever doesn’t have it… I understand and I still love you mucho! Have a great day.

I was mortified to read this. She has expressed in Bible study and individually to me that she wants to grow up to be an upstanding and quality woman. With these intentions being stated multiple times and seeing this post, I thought to myself that maybe she just didn’t KNOW how rude this type of post was. I decided to write her a kind email, gently letting her know that this type of thing is not very nice and does not bode well for her in becoming the lady she is striving to be.

I normally do not correct people with bad etiquette, but I thought this was a special case. I carefully crafted the following email to her:

Hey girl. I just wanted to drop you a line about something. You know I love you and I’m saying this in complete Christian love.

It is not viewed as polite or good manners to solicit money or gifts. I know it’s your birthday and you are excited, but those that love you and care about you will make your day special to the best of their ability. It is viewed as tacky for a person to request cash or gifts (particularly a generic message on a forum like this).

I’m just telling you this because you may not know that it’s viewed that way. I know you are young and may not know these types of things. When I got married I made some big etiquette blunders that I didn’t know were bad manners at the time and I am still embarrassed about it, years later. I’m just passing on some wisdom so that you can avoid embarrassment in the future.

I hope you will take this advice/wisdom with the love in which it was intended.

I know you strive to be an upstanding young lady, and I want you to be as well.
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful birthday :)

Her response, which quite frankly shocked me:

Well thanks but I don’t care if you think it’s tacky seeing as how I’ve gotten 100 dollars since that post from people back home who weren’t aware of my birthday. Also seeing as how you and I haven’t spoken since Bible study so I don’t think it’s your duty to give your opinion. If its putting $ in my pocket and my family and FRIENDS don’t feel offended its all good.

Ps. I am in no way embarrassed and I don’t think I should be.

I simply responded with:

Thank you for your comments. Have a good day.

I know that at this point she cannot be “saved” from Etiquette Hell, so there was no point in getting into any further discussion about it. I let it be.

My question is, was I out of line in passing on this wisdom to her?   0308-13

Your young friend is part of the growing culture of people who believe in their God-given right to honor themselves shamelessly on their personal special occasions.  For them, friends and family are simply too stupid or ignorant of their special day and must therefore be reminded and guided as to how best to honor them with well wishes and especially cash.   Unfortunately her family has rewarded her tackiness and it will probably become an annual tradition.

As to whether you should have privately rebuked her for her tackiness, the question boils down to relationships.   There are people I may gently inform of their impending faux pas because the depth  of the relationship can support it.  Even then there is a hesitancy to offer advice when none has been requested.   People who care, and that is the important point, will seek you out to find out if something they want to do or have done is bad etiquette.   You cannot make people behave.  You can only control yourself.   You have discovered that your relationship with young friend does not support any kind of input into her manners and that she views her relationship to you as her “pulling” data or advice from you when she wants it but that you are not to “push” it in any way.

{ 84 comments… read them below or add one }

Calli Arcale March 12, 2013 at 11:46 am

postalslave:
“Here comes the Registry generation…”

Au contraire. I think these are the *children* of the registry generation. Which means that now it’s institutionalized as “correct”. *gack*

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Lynnie March 12, 2013 at 11:48 am

Correct people like this I think is fine, but please don’t use words like “tacky” or anything else. YOu can correct people without using words like that which immediately make them defensiveness and then they don’t listen.

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Marie March 12, 2013 at 11:58 am

@gramma dishes: thank you for explaining. I am not from the US myself, so I was not aware of the normal Sophomore age. Where I come from 18 is considered an adult to the extent of buying liquor and being able to get a drivers license. However, I still consider that age as being a teenager. I am pretty sure my puberty started when I was 10, and lasted until I was 22. My real maturity came when I was standing on my own without any financial dependance, and living with an equal partner instead of my parents.

@Tricia (the OP): I hope you don’t take all the comments to harshly to yourself. I think we all know you had good intentions and even though we don’t all agree if the mail should have been send – you were spot on with it’s contents. I have to salute you on your final response to her email, and if you show the same grace during your bible study group, we can only hope she will realize in time that she missed a big opportunity to be your friend.

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Helen March 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

It sounds like (despite her comments to the contrary), she was ashamed of her actions, and as an immature and uncouth person, she lashed out at you rather than own her own misconduct.

Of course, I would also keep her at arms’ length.

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Marjorie Margarine March 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Hilarious that this young lady “doesn’t care if it’s tacky” BECAUSE she made $100. Pride is cheap, I suppose. Or, well, she is.

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amyasleigh March 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

It’s a Christian scene — maybe a bit of a better chance than “some elsewheres”, that the young lady concerned may ultimately see the error of her ways, and correct them. Only a bit (and I’m not a Christian — survivor of many failed attempts in that direction) — a fair number of Christians behave abominably throughout their lives (“Christians are not perfect; only forgiven”); many unbelievers learn, sooner or later, from their mistakes in this life and this world, and improve their behaviour accordingly. There may be hope (irrespective of religion) to be held out: in their early twenties, a lot of people are, in various ways, idiots — but over time, learn better.

As a heathen, I have little right to advise the OP: but I’d say, you weren’t out of line advising / trying to correct her. The picture I’ve got, is that a lot of the time, more interpersonal hurt and upset and nastiness happens on Christian scenes, than elsewhere (God chastising those whom he loves) — a situation in which etiquette is perhaps irrelevant; but going too far in that direction, probably not advisable… I gather that mercifully, the Christian interpersonal scene does not totally suck 24/7/52 (if it did — well, let’s not go there). Hopefully, in the end the girl concerned will see where she was wrong, and make amends accordingly.

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Angel March 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm

I agree with Harley Granny. I wouldn’t have sent the email. I agree the girl’s post was unbelieveably tacky, but unless it’s one of my kids I’m not going to correct them. Now if I saw the girl face to face at a later time, and she asked if I had seen the post, I would have told her what I thought, honestly and in as nice a way as possible. I think email can be a dangerous thing because it’s too easy to misinterpret someone’s intentions, and forgive me but, words can come across as much harsher in writing. Personally after seeing the post, I probably would just stop giving the girl money or rides in the future. It’s pretty obvious that she is only interested in what she can get from others :(

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Library Diva March 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm

It’s unfortunate that OP’s acquaintance chose to respond to her in this way. OP was correct, and I don’t think she was wrong in pointing this out, but I do think she shouldn’t have used the age difference. Perhaps I’m just sensitive about it because I have a co-worker who is in her 50s and likes to use the fact that she’s older than myself and another co-worker to demean us. She makes constant reference to the fact that she’s older, uses it to put herself on the same level as our bosses who are also close to her age, offers unsolicited advice about everything (which is often not even good advice: she’s also very tacky and pushy and frequently advocates tactics like complaining about stuff to try to get free products or driving to every outlet of a chain in the region that’s offering a giveaway to quadruple-dip).

Honestly, all it does is make me defensive, lead me to entirely discount virtually everything she says, and pretty much avoid her as much as I can. I’ve come to realize that just because someone is older than me doesn’t necessarily mean they know better, and you really need to be careful of whose advice you follow. I don’t mean this as a reflection on OP in any way, and surely someone you meet in Bible study and have openly admired probably has a perspective that’s worthy of consideration. But it’s because of who they are and how they’ve lived their lives, not just because they’ve been around for 15 years longer.

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Michelle C Young March 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm

OP’s “mentee” said: “Well thanks but I don’t care if you think it’s tacky seeing as how I’ve gotten 100 dollars since that post from people back home who weren’t aware of my birthday. Also seeing as how you and I haven’t spoken since Bible study so I don’t think it’s your duty to give your opinion. If its putting $ in my pocket and my family and FRIENDS don’t feel offended its all good.

“Ps. I am in no way embarrassed and I don’t think I should be.”

I wonder which Bible she’s studying, because this attitude is not very Christian. Also, thieves, scam artists and other criminals use the “it’s putting $ in my pocket” argument, but that doesn’t make them correct in their behavior.

Also, at least one FRIEND was, indeed, offended, so by her own logic, it’s not all good. Either that, or she never actually considered you to be a FRIEND, in the first place.

I must admit, I’d be sorely tempted to ask her if she ever did think of you as a friend, let alone FRIEND, and if she meant it when she said she wanted to emulate you and become a classy lady. However, I can’t think of a way to phrase that without it coming across as petty, and she’d surely take it in the same vein as she did your first attempt at advice, so on reflection, I’d avoid saying anything to her about it.

The Bible would tell you to forgive her, and let this go, and you should. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give her money, again. Perhaps offer her a ride, instead.

I’m curious. You haven’t spoken to her since Bible study, and she thought that was too long to maintain friendship? How long between Bible studies? A month? Two? A year? Because anything less than that seems quite frequent enough for friendship, to me. In fact, I wouldn’t put down any contact from old friends, even if it’s been several years. Life happens, and people are caught up in their own worlds. When you meet again, you can still have those same warm feelings. It’s amazing how quickly they spark right back to life, if the relationship was true, in the first place.

That’s a lesson that comes with age and experience, though, and she is young. Not that she knows nothing, because she’s young. Just that she hasn’t had time to have the experiences that teach experiential-type lessons.

Good luck with maintaining a future relationship with this young woman. She clearly does need a friend like you.

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Elle March 12, 2013 at 3:59 pm

OP, I think you’re just too old and out of touch to understand . . . . .

That didn’t feel very nice, did it? And probably you don’t want to take any advice from me now or even keep reading. But that’s the reaction she had to being told she’s young and “may not know these things.” With that one phrase you called her immature and insulted her upbringing. I’d probably have a hard time internalizing your advice after that as well. And the line “I know you strive to be an upstanding young lady, and I want you to be as well” – after being frozen out already – I can guarantee she didn’t read it at face value. I imagine what she inferred was “you are not an upstanding lady now – let me tell you how to behave.” And this is coming from someone she respected.

Now you aren’t wrong in that she was, indeed, doing something incredibly tacky. And I believe that you did have the best, purest intentions (although generally the phrase “I’m saying this in Christian love” is the equivalent of “with all due respect” and “I hope you will take this as intended” is like ending an insult with “no offense meant.”). But your attempts to mentor her were overblown. The admin’s analogy of “pushing/pulling” advice is spot on. I also think the commenters who said you had the wrong idea about the nature of your relationship with her are correct. She regarded you as a “cool big sister” – someone who was a role-model and she could *ask* for good advice. You saw yourself as a more motherly role – taking her “under your wing” and someone who should correct her behavior. This mismatched perception is at the heart of this miscommunication.

I would encourage you to remain a good model for her, and to not take to heart the comments above that call this girl a scam artist or say you should abandon your association with her as a result of a private facebook spat.

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Stacey Frith-Smith March 12, 2013 at 4:23 pm

If you are going to offer someone your views on any sensitive topic, it’s best done in person and most definitely not by email, which is pretty cowardly. Email spares you the necessity of engaging with her and dealing with her response directly. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth making the time to do so in person for a person in your sphere. Admin also offers a good word. If she asks, then you have clearance to state your case. Failing that, it’s harder. Basically, you are using her approval of you as moral grounds for communicating your disapproval of her Why? Wouldn’t the exposure to your good example over the long term have done her more good than your attempt to nip her bad behavior in the bud which has caused a sense of offense on both sides?

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Margo March 12, 2013 at 4:31 pm

I agree that this young lady’s original request was inappropriate, and that her reaction to OP’s mail was rude.

However, to me, the e-mail Op sent came across as pretty patronising, and I do think that if you are going to try to address something like this, it is better to do so face to face if you can, or failing that, by phone, so you can get more of a sense of how someone is reacting.

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Molly March 12, 2013 at 5:31 pm

It’s not your place to turn her into the person you want her to be. If she wants input or advice she’ll probably ask for it.

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Jewel March 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Ellie — I’m willing to explore giving the girl the “cold shoulder” may not be the best approach. If not, how would you suggest the OP address this girl’s over-the-top-rude response?

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Weaver March 12, 2013 at 6:16 pm

Given that this young woman had previously solicited yout advice, albeit tacitly, I can completely understand your sending that email. Given her response, I’m inclined to think that she is one of those people who want to be thought well of, but only by their rather specific guidelines (i.e. whatever suits them).

It does occur to me that her email may have been worded so rudely partly because she was on the defensive – perhaps she took your words to heart, knew in her heart you were right, and lashed out in a silly attempt to defend herself? It’s similar to the sort of thing I might have done if called out like that at a relatively young age.

I have to say that I really admire your response to her reply. I think that was very classy of you. You may or may not have taught your friend something, but you’ve certainly taught me something.

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Kimstu March 12, 2013 at 7:15 pm

It’s always tricky to offer unsolicited criticisms of somebody else’s behavior: when in doubt, don’t. However, it was perfectly reasonable for the OP to consider that a much younger friend who had allowed the OP to help her out financially, and who had voluntarily stated that she regarded the OP as a mentor, might accept or even welcome such criticisms. And certainly the OP stated them in a very sympathetic way.

I think only somebody unduly touchy and oversensitive could regard the OP’s tone as “patronizing”, considering it was coming from somebody whose patronage she had already gladly accepted when it took the form of help and $$$. Honey, if you’re old enough to be insulted by an older person’s making a gentle reference to your extreme youth and inexperience, you’re old enough to pay your expenses using your own damn money instead of accepting said older person’s handouts.

In any case, nothing can excuse the defensive rudeness of the little brat’s response. She could have stood up for her gimme-piggery in a gracious and mannerly way by saying something like “Dear OP, Thank you for your thoughtful letter and I appreciate your wanting to give me the benefits of your experience. But I don’t think you need to be concerned about this, because my friends and family understood where I was coming from and they’re not offended by it. Take care, and see you at Bible study!”

Mind you, that would still be a fairly bulls**t excuse for “Facebegging” on the internet, but at least it wouldn’t have compounded the initial offense of clueless greed by adding rude and hostile self-justification.

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Maggie March 12, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Tricia (OP) said: ‘However, I also clearly see her attitude and her way of thinking (I believe one of the posters said it best – “As long as I get MONEY, who cares?”). She has shown me who she is, and I believe her. ‘

Quite. She has shown that money is what matters and you were her ATM, of sorts. You’ll continue to have a relationship with her so long as you pay the “entry fee”.

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Schnickelfritz March 12, 2013 at 10:17 pm

I have to agree, with the responses about the OP sending the e-mail.

Rule: Never put negative or critical communication in writing. The impact will live on. It is one thing to have words, or make your point, but in writing, it can cut many times over.

Always put positive and compliments in writing. No matter, a nice little compliment note tucked away, can bring good feelings to the recipient, many times over.

Live by this, and save yourself (anyone of course) a lot of grief / bad feedback and misunderstanding.

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PM March 12, 2013 at 10:53 pm

I hope that whopping hundred dollars she received was worth losing the respect of someone who genuinely wished her well, and the no doubt dozens of people on her friends and family list who didn’t appreciate being solicited for her birthday money grab, but stayed silent about it.

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waitress wonderwoman March 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I wonder “how good” it’s going to be when some Facebook “friend” wipes out her bank account? Most people in this young woman’s age group can have a thousand fb “friends”, most whom they don’t know from Adam. With her gimme attitude, I could see her easily handing out her bank info to someone she barley knows, thinking they would just LOVE to donate to her birthday! Op, you did your best. Perhaps you could have mentioned how *dangerous* her post actually was. YOU NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR BANK INFO!! This is simply irresponsible adult behavior, inviting in all sorts of people who know how to con people out of money much, much better than her. She really should know better at her age, or if not, someone should school her about identify theft ASAP! But of course, if she got wiped out, I could see her pitching a fit, and wonder how “someone could do that to HER”!!!!

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Tricia (the OP) March 12, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I definitely have a lot of advice to consider! Thanks again everyone. I have great feedback and lots of different points of view to ponder.

I can definitely see how me pointing out the age difference seemed patronizing, once several posters pointed that out. Ironically, I pointed out her age as a way to go easy on her, because I realized she just may not know that kind of behaviour is viewed as tacky. As I told her, there were things I did when I was young that I genuinely did not know was bad etiquette and wish I would have known at the time. I was trying to show some grace and I guess it might have sounded more like “you’re young and stupid”.

As for telling her in person, my hope (and genuine belief at the time) was that as soon as she read my email, she would immediately take down the post she had just put up. I know that’s what I would have done if a mentor I respected had sent me an email about something I was doing that was uncouth. I just assumed, based on our friendship and history, that she would do the same. I obviously assumed wrong. That’s why I chose the email vs. in person because it was going to be a few weeks before I saw her in person.

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just4kicks March 13, 2013 at 12:31 am

Maybe I belong in etiquette hell but, I thought it was rude of the OP to send her that message. It came across as condescending, although rooted in friendship and genuine caring. I would never solicit for “cash and prizes” on social media either, but it’s her choice to do so. And since people DID send her money, it worked out well for her. Her response was indeed harsh and rude.

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Bint March 13, 2013 at 4:24 am

“And since people DID send her money, it worked out well for her.”

Really? You honestly think so? She got $100 but she hurt and possibly lost someone who really cared for her. She got money but she probably offended or made herself ridiculous to quite a lot more people by begging in public on FB. She may well yet find herself defrauded. I wouldn’t call any of these working out well in exchange for about sixty quid.

She’s made herself cheap and it ain’t over yet.

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Marozia March 13, 2013 at 5:35 am

Sadly, this is what it has boiled down to. The “registry generation”.
Have manners gone out of the window? Sending emails to people and asking for money for 21st birthday present. Tacky, tacky, tacky!! The mavens of manners must be having a great day with this post.

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AnaLuisa March 13, 2013 at 6:33 am

I would like to comment on whether to tell the “mentee” what I think about her behaviour.

Several comments mentioned that you shouldn’t “preach” to another adult, no matter how gently your “reproach” is worded.

I disagree.

I, too, understood Tricia’s mentioning age etc. not as patronising, but quite the contrary – as an attempt to attenuate the statement as much as I am able to. However, no matter how you formulate your criticism, you cannot cover it IS a criticism.

I think real FRIENDS can, and sometimes even SHOULD, sometimes tell the other friend their opinion. Because I do not particularly like the other option – to say nothing and to simply avoid te “perpetrator” (who does not have a clue why and may be unaware how his/her actions are perceived). This is something we would probably do if the person is a simple acquaintance, but I think we owe more to a FRIEND.

Not that I recommend to harass the friend all the time about how tacky I think her behaviour is etc., but I am convinced that if it is a friend, it should be said at least once.

This being said, and given the situation OP described, I would consider the girl as a mere acquaintance from now on, and treat her as such (polite behaviour, but no money, no shoulder to weep on and no close contacts).

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Princess Buttercup March 13, 2013 at 9:40 am

“I don’t care because it’s worked”
If I slap you across the face it will work to get your attention, that doesn’t mean it’s a good way to get your attention.

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Elle March 13, 2013 at 9:51 am

“Ellie — I’m willing to explore giving the girl the “cold shoulder” may not be the best approach. If not, how would you suggest the OP address this girl’s over-the-top-rude response?”

That’s not over-the-top rude. That’s just plain vanilla defensiveness to being called out on a behavior.

Ignore it completely and move forward with life. Remain cordial and friendly at bible studies and act like it had never be sent (you know, turn the other cheek). To do anything else risks escalating this into something that could damage the relationship or worse if it spreads to other members in the study. At the very least the need to defend her actions will just cause her to dig in her heels and be more likely to think she is in the right of the situation.

We’ve all reacted badly when called out on the carpet by friends and loved ones. I would hope that we received graciousness in the face of that and not further recriminations.

“I was trying to show some grace and I guess it might have sounded more like “you’re young and stupid”. ”
I absolutely believe you. But you ran headfirst into one of the *huge* problems when trying to say something tactfully via email – it is virtually impossible to convey tone. As an outside observer I can see how you carefully crafted each line for maximum empathy. But I can also see how she read it with the worst tone possible. If she has a passive aggressive relative anywhere in her family THAT is whose voice she was hearing it in, not yours. (And THAT is who she is responding to.)

In the future, should you (or anyone else) find yourself in the position of having to write an email that must be done tactfully – read it over and imagine each line being taken in the worst way possible. Edit based on that interpretation, not by what you intend for it to mean.

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SJ March 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

In general, I am on the OP’s side.

However, as I read the email, I kept thinking that it just kept going on and on, over-explaining, over-patronizing.

But, the girl would have responded the same, now matter what you said, I think. Her defensiveness seems like guilt to me. I hold out hope that in the future, maybe the far future, she’ll realize you were right.

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Jewel March 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Thank you for your response, Elle. I will have to say that we’ll have to “agree to disagree” regarding our definition of over-the-top. I felt that girl’s response was outright hostile and completely lacking a shred of gentility. She may as well have added a big “F.U.” the end of her rant because it was certainly implied.

While I intellectually understand the philosophical wisdom of the “turn the other cheek” advice, I am puzzled as to how people are ever supposed to know when they’ve strayed into the Land of Rude if no one ever calls them on it? If the people around them always remain cordial/friendly, never show a reaction to the rudeness, and never penalize them for their behavior (such as with the cold shoulder), how does the message of their mis-behavior ever find its way into their heart or brain?

I’m not talking about creating a Jerry Springer moment out of every slight, but if we (as a society) are not to address situations like this in any way, is it any wonder that each successive generation is exhibiting less and less couth?

What am I missing here? I just don’t get that the OP continuing to be her same friendly, giving self to this girl in the future is ultimately the best way to handle it.

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MizA March 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thanks, Rod- You took the words right out of my mouth regarding kids these days. Youth don’t have a corner on entitlement- It certainly spans generations.

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just4kicks March 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm

@Bint: please let me clarify my statement. As I said, I thought the gimme pig was rude, however, it is her life, and her decision. We don’t have to agree with it, even though many (including myself) consider that kind of solicitation crass and trashy. However, she was sent monies by someone who didn’t see anything wrong with it, and ponied up some cash. So, in HER eyes, mission accomplished. That is what I meant. Thanks for your response to my comment.

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K March 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm

I just have to say my heart was warmed reading the OP’s letter to the young lady: it was so graciously phrased and obviously sent with kindness and generosity of spirit. I can understand those who say the letter would have best been left unsent, and I have no opinion about that either way — I know I would have appreciated a letter like that, but whether it was appropriate in this situation depends, of course, on so many factors that none of us can fully understand without knowing both women. That aside, though, I can’t imagine a sweeter or more obviously caring letter. It warmed my heart to read it!

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Enna March 15, 2013 at 1:10 pm

This is a tough one: it can depend on the relationship two people have: I don’t think texts and emails and social media networking are always good for contstructive critisism. I would be more concerned about someone else getting hold of her bank details: if she gives them to a firend and they get FB raped or hacked then it could be diaster for both of them.

I fell out with a firend: she had behaved poorly and apologised a few months later by text. She invited me round, now we hadn’t spoken in months and I did say when she apologised that we needed to talk. I said I didn’t want to come round and offered to call her. As she was busy she could text but not speak (in other words, I knew she was at work). She got really funny, so I gave up in the end. Sometiems knowing not only what to say, how to say but in what medium to say it is just ast important.

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Monkey mommy March 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

I think you should probably have kept quiet about that one. It really wasn’t your place, no matter how tacky her request is.

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