My husband and I, both 80-ish, are cautious about Covid. Six months ago, we fired the man who helped us with chores around the house on weekends because he refused to be vaccinated. We discussed our concerns with him, but it was clear that his decision was based on misinformation and that he would not change his mind. Recently we received a text from him asking for a loan to buy a used car. His wife’s car died, so he is forced to drive her to and from work every day. We are thinking of helping him, but only if he gets vaccinated. We recognize this is a kind of blackmail. But would that be so terrible?
Not at all! Lenders put all sorts of conditions on loans to increase the likelihood of their repayment. They often require borrowers, for instance, to insure the cars or other property they buy with borrowed money. Asking your former employee to get vaccinated against Covid-19 is one way to increase the probability of his staying healthy enough to repay you.
My concern is that he may reject your direct demand and dig in his heels about the vaccine. He was willing to lose his paying job, after all, to avoid taking the shot. Now, it may be that the inconvenience of ferrying his wife to and from work has changed his calculus. Still, I would suggest a softer approach that gives him more autonomy.
Ask him to talk to a mutually agreed-upon expert about the vaccine as the condition for your loan — a provider of medical care, for instance. By expanding his sources of information, you may convince him to want the vaccine. That would be the best result. Not only would he get his loan, you might get your weekend helper back, too.
Charity for the Rich?
I know of a family that suffered a terrible tragedy: Their son died, leaving their young grandson parentless. The family lives modestly, but I believe their net worth is substantial. (I would guess around $50 to $75 million.) So I was surprised to learn that the family is apparently soliciting donations for a trust fund for the grandchild. This seems almost offensive to me. Am I wrong?
What an ugly question! First, you assume a family’s great wealth without evidence. (On what do you base your “guess” at their net worth?) You don’t seem to know anything for certain. Then you add that they’re “apparently” soliciting donations. Well, are they, or aren’t they? You don’t even know that. You seem to be trading in idle gossip, none of which affects you personally.
Let’s focus on the facts, instead: A family has lost a son, and a young child has lost his father. What possible business is it of yours to speculate on their finances at such a terrible time? If you don’t like the (possibly fictional) trust fund, don’t contribute to it.
City Mom, Country Mom
Because of the pandemic, my husband and I moved temporarily from a city to my suburban hometown. We miss the city, but we’ve decided that staying in the suburbs for the foreseeable future is best for our family. (We recently had a baby, and the family support is amazing — as is the lower cost of living.) The problem: I have always based my identity on living in a city, and my friends look down on the suburbs. I’m afraid they’ll think less of me, and I’ll think less of myself, if I tell them we’re staying here. Help!
Many readers may quickly assume that you and your friends are pretentious urban snobs. But I get it: Transitions are hard! In your mind, the city is synonymous with youth, vibrancy and culture. (In fact, none of these qualities is exclusive to cities.) Still, it’s taking you a minute to recognize that, as new parents of limited means, you aren’t likely to be out and about (much less club kids) for a long time.
Now, the whole point of having friends is to share experiences with them. So, tell yours how you made this decision. Share your ambivalence, too. But don’t forget to mention the things you’re gaining in the bargain: more space, greater affordability and built-in child care. Suddenly, your idea of “cool” pales a bit in comparison, right?
What About My Billable Hours?
I referred a friend who was injured in a slip-and-fall accident to a lawyer friend at a firm that specializes in personal injury lawsuits. My friend ended up getting a good settlement. Would it be appropriate to ask my lawyer friend for a payment for setting up the referral?
In most states, it is illegal for lawyers to pay referral fees to people who are not lawyers. (Creating incentivizes for ever more lawsuits is bad public policy.) But even absent this rule, helping an injured friend is not the best moment for cashing in. I understand your frustration at watching the gravy train pass you by. Try to focus on your good deed instead.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.