Money Manners

Apologize to boss for nephew’s behavior before it reflects on you

King Features Syndicate

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: As a favor to my sister, I was able to get her 22-year-old son a job at the high-tech startup where I work. Big mistake! Not only is “Austin’s” work mediocre at best, but he spends most of his time telling the other employees that they’re underpaid and being exploited. Last week he even sent the boss a memo, explaining to her why everyone who works for the company is entitled to a raise.

I asked his mother to tell him to tone it down, but she said her son has “every right to speak out about injustice in the workplace” and criticized me for failing to support him. I should have known. My sister and her husband are middle-class suburbanites with good jobs who nevertheless love to espouse the anti-capitalist, stick-it-to-the-man philosophy they embraced when they were young.

That’s fine for them, but what do I do? I’m afraid Austin’s poor performance and would-be rabble-rousing are starting to reflect badly on me. Also, for the record, we pay very good wages, and students at the local university email us every day begging for the kind of job I helped Austin get. — Gloria

DEAR GLORIA: Did your sister ask you to find her son a job or a soapbox?

But to answer your question: Shame on her for encouraging her wet-behind-the-ears son to behave in ways she obviously wouldn’t where she works. All you can do is explain to your nephew why he needs to ratchet down the rhetoric and focus on his performance. And if he won’t listen? Wash your hands of him before his behavior, as you fear, tarnishes you.

Specifically, apologize to the boss for recommending that the company hire someone insufficiently mature to work there, and tell her you wouldn’t be surprised if she chose to replace your nephew with someone more appreciative of the job. She’ll understand.

A half-million dollar mistake

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Three years ago our son, who’s in the real estate business, arranged for us to make a loan to a resort developer in Georgia. We had made a few loans like this in the past, with more than satisfactory results, and we saw them as a way to get a better interest rate on our savings than the banks pay.

Also, our son is very experienced in the field and always works with top-notch developers. But this one must be the exception.

We lent him almost half a million dollars toward a multimillion-dollar property, and he hasn’t made a single payment. Nor have we received an explanation as to why we’re not getting paid.

We have a good relationship with our son, and we don’t want to upset it by pressing him for answers. Besides, he feels bad enough as it is. But half of our savings is tied up in the loan, and we’re really worried. What should we do? — Doris

DEAR DORIS: Stop worrying about how bad your son feels, and start insisting that he give you a complete picture of what’s going on. From what you say, he knows his way around the real estate business, so surely he has a pretty good idea of the status of the development and the solvency of the developer.

But he may be as reluctant to tell you the cold, hard facts as you are reluctant to make him feel worse than he already does. Forget the reluctance, and insist on the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

Then find a Georgia real estate lawyer to go to bat for you. If following the lawyer’s recommendations means stepping on the developer’s toes, and that in turn means embarrassing your son, so be it. He should be worrying about you, not vice versa. Indeed, at this point your only concern should be the recovery of your savings. We hope that’s possible.

Email your questions about money and relationships to questions@moneymanners.net.

| King Features Syndicate

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