A com­plaint about the tab

Los Angeles Times - - COMICS -

Over the hol­i­days my wife and two young chil­dren were with my wife’s fam­ily (her mom, dad, sis­ter, brother-in-law and their two chil­dren).

My sis­ter-in-law in­sisted that we or­der take-out in­stead of hav­ing a home­cooked meal. We or­dered in, and she paid for the meal.

Days later my fa­ther-in­law sug­gested that he and I should give her money for the meal ($47 each). I’m an­noyed by this for a few rea­sons: I have pur­chased sev­eral more ex­pen­sive take­out meals at fam­ily events and have never asked for (or been of­fered) com­pen­sa­tion.

This is also an ex­am­ple of an in­creas­ingly fre­quent sit­u­a­tion where my fa­ther-in­law ef­fec­tively dic­tates how my wife and I spend our money. For my son’s birth­day, he of­fered to cover half of the cost of mu­sic les­sons. It was a lovely idea, but it also sad­dled us with an ad­di­tional ex­pense (I ended up pay­ing for all of the les­sons).

In my view, if he felt my sis­ter-in-law needed to be re­paid, he could have made the point at the time of the meal, or he could have cho­sen to take care of it him­self.

This is also an ex­ten­sion of a per­ceived dif­fer­ence in eco­nomic po­si­tion be­tween my wife and I, and her sis­ter’s fam­ily.

Am I just be­ing petty and cheap? Son-in-law

Dear Son-in-law: Your fa­ther-in-law’s sug­ges­tions may sound like com­mand­ments to you, but you are an adult and you can make a choice to get on board or re­spond re­spect­fully: “Thanks for the sug­ges­tion. This is gen­er­ous of you. But I’ve picked up the check any num­ber of times; my the­ory is that these things even out in the end.”

Be­cause it seems you can ac­tu­ally af­ford to be more gen­er­ous, you should choose the path that make you to feel best about your­self. You can learn to tol­er­ate this ex­pec­ta­tion (and come off as mag­nan­i­mous and gen­er­ous) or you can po­litely push back and tol­er­ate the uncer­tainty of won­der­ing whether you are be­ing stingy.

Dear Amy: I re­cently ran into an old friend. We’ve known each other since child­hood, and dur­ing our years of friend­ship, our level of close­ness fluc­tu­ates.

Over the past 10 years we fell out of touch, due to fam­ily com­pli­ca­tions, a re­turn to school and a divorce (on my part), and work (on her part).

I was happy to see her re­cently and she seemed happy to see me. Be­cause we were both in a rush, I asked if she was on Face­book and she said yes. I promised to con­tact her that way.

When I went to her Face­book page, I no­ticed her “add friend” but­ton was grayed out. I “waved” at her through messenger, which is all I can do with­out a re­sponse from her.

I have heard noth­ing back, and she has not at­tempted to con­tact me. I’m not sure if I’m be­ing snubbed, and don’t know what to do next. In the Gray

Dear In the Gray: Your friend’s “add friend” but­ton might be in­ac­tive be­cause of her own pri­vacy set­tings. She might not re­al­ize that you are try­ing to add her as a friend. She might not re­al­ize that you are out there in the cy­ber fog, wav­ing.

Give this one more try. Send her a card or an email (if pos­si­ble). Say, “It was so great to run into you again! Here’s my con­tact in­for­ma­tion in case you want to re­con­nect.” And then leave the con­nect­ing up to her.

Send ques­tions to [email protected] amy­dick­in­son.com.

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