Dear John: A New Job With an Old Flame
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Without really looking for a new job, I have received an offer that I’d be crazy to turn down. Better pay (which I could really use), better position, better company, etc. But there’s a major catch. A woman I had an affair with about ten years ago also works there. That was a long time ago, my marriage was strained, and I was just really confused. She was married, too (and still is as far as I know) and it started out as just a physical attraction for both of us, but I started thinking of it as (and wanting it to be) something more. When I shared that with her, she broke it off. I tried to contact her a couple of times, but that was basically that. Her being at this new place makes me very anxious, to be honest with you. My wife and I got past all this (my wife never found out) and we have a nice life now which includes a 7-year-old son. I really don’t want to screw all this up. Is it worth risking that just for a new job, or should I stay where I am and not take that chance?
Dear Reluctant Candidate,
You make it sound like this affair was something that just happened to you – something you had no role in. And now what if it happens again at this new job? Come on. It won’t happen if you don’t let it happen. Yes, it might not be the most comfortable situation, especially until you get the first contact with her out of the way. So don’t sit around and wait to run into her (which sounds like something you might do) – pay her a brief visit on your first day to say something like, “I really wanted to work here, and sure, it’s a little awkward, but I just wanted to stop by and say hi rather than see you for the first time in some meeting.” Then just concentrate on learning the ropes, like you’d do at any job. Other than that, stay away from alcohol at work functions. Drinking makes co-workers do stupid things.
A little while ago, I started my own company providing a particular service to the industry I’ve worked in for many years. All my friends were very supportive. I didn’t hear a single discouraging word. But all that encouragement has not translated into any business, or at least very little! Where are all the people who were so supportive now that I need them?? And believe me, they’ve been hiring people to provide the service I provide, so it’s not like they’ve got no work for me. They do – they’re just not giving it to me! And yet when I run into them, they’re as nice as ever! I’d like to say, yeah, that’s great, but how about a call with some work? Any advice?
Disappointed And Bored
Dear Disappointed And Bored,
Are you especially close to any of these prospective customers? If so, you should ask them if they have any insight into your particular situation – insist that they be blunt, and brace yourself for what you might hear. Are you as good at your job as you think you are? Are you charging too much? It’s hard for me to say without knowing more about what you do, but I kind of get the impression from your letter that you feel people owe you work based on your relationship with them rather than on the job you can do. I’m sure they meant it when they said, “Oh, that’s great!” after you told them you were striking out on your own. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’d be writing you a purchase order any time soon. Keep in touch with the prospects you already know and spend every day getting yourself in front of new people. Don’t wait for anything to come to you. Go get it.
It’s okay to ask my son’s teacher out, right? No unwritten rule against that, is there? I am a single dad, and I’ve had a couple of conferences with her (my son is in third grade), and I must admit to being quite smitten. I’ve dated enough and it’s rare that I meet someone who interests me, but she does. I don’t know anything about her personal life, but she doesn’t wear a wedding or engagement ring, so that’s enough for me! Am I right?
Teacher’s Pet, Maybe
Dear Teacher’s Pet, Maybe,
Yeah, sure, it’s fine, although your signature’s a bit creepy. And if this goes anywhere, please let us know your son’s reaction if he sees the two of you together. Now that’s traumatizing.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com.
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