Bad Habits » Karma Cleanser

Karma Cleanser


Dear Karma Cleanser:

I got a job doing Web design in a marketing firm. A woman 10 years my senior was my supervisor, and took an interest in helping me. She really elevated the level of my design work and championed me for promotions. We became friendly after work, occasionally meeting for lunch. I saw her as a mentor.

Last year, the agency lost three large accounts, and several people lost their jobs. My friend worried that her job was at risk, because our boss thought she was negative and she earned a high salary as a senior supervisor.

A few months ago, she was laid off after 14 years with the company. It was a shocking betrayal for her, but she stayed while she looked for a new position. Sometimes I heard her crying in her office.

My boss announced that I would take the role of Vice President, the title my friend had before. I took her to lunch to say goodbye on her last day. She tried to act happy for me, but I could see what happened hurt her badly. She smiled and said nice things to me but her eyes looked dead.

Was I wrong to accept the promotion? I worked very hard many nights and weekends, and felt I deserved it -- my friend herself said so. I've heard a rumor that she's on medication for depression and had to go to a hospital for observation for suicidal tendencies. She doesn't talk to me now.

I am Hindu and worry about consequences if I profited from my friend's misfortune. Will I be punished for this? Was I a bad friend to stay with my company and accept her position?

---- Worried from India

After reading the winding saga of your letter (extremely abbreviated above), one thing becomes abundantly clear: You're either the kindest wage slave we know or one of the most naïve employees on the planet. Or both. Kudos for caring, but colleagues come and go, and it's usually the ones we'd most like to hold onto who leave first. You earned your promotion fair and square. If you still feel badly, use those design skills to help her land a new gig.

Dear Karma Cleanser:

There's this girl, Brooke, who I thought was my friend. I noticed she had these eyebrows that were really out of control. I gave Brooke some friendly advice that she should pluck them before someone noticed. I guess Brooke actually wasn't my friend, because she told all the other girls in our class that I was the one who had eyebrows that were out of control. Now when I see those girls, they call me "Unibrow" or "Tweezers." I'm really mad at myself for being stupid. Is there no good karma for friendly advice?

---- Brow Beaten

First off, Brooke's a bitch, and a self-hating one at that. Don't hold that against her. After a few years she'll probably realize what a harpy she was. That's no consolation for you now, but perhaps the good karma can come in the lesson you've learned about not offering grooming advice to the gorillas.

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