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Sister misunderstood what her brother owed her

Friday, November 23, 2012 - 12:01 am

Q.: I enjoy your columns because you always give good advice. However, your advice regarding the person who expected her brother to pay for the "favor" done in helping him find a tailoring job was wrong, in my opinion.

The writer offered to bring her brother the items to be hemmed and to deliver them back to the customer. Now she is angry that she wasn't offered payment for her help. It was her offer in the first place. An offer of help shouldn't come with a hidden price tag, if helping is what you truly are attempting to do.

If someone offered to help me and then afterward expected cash for it, I would be hurt and angry. The writer said she believes she is supportive of her family, but it appears this help comes with a price. – Not Greedy, Chicago

A.: I agree with you that the best gift is one that's given freely. In this particular case, the writer was the sibling of a man who had been in deep financial trouble and who had received multiple loans from the sibling. The writer felt like she should have been offered some compensatory pittance, given that she had been overwhelmingly helpful and finally her brother was getting a little money.

I believe she misunderstood her brother's thinking. I doubt he intended to overlook his sister. He was simply trying to take care of himself and dig out of a hole. Repayment of the loans she made is best handled as a separate conversation.

Q.: I am trying to expand my baby-sitting business. I haven't baby-sat for some families in a while because some have hired full-time nannies, or my schedule has not coordinated with their schedule. However, I am still available to do certain times and during the weekend.

If I were to call or write a letter to the families I have baby-sat for, asking them to recommend me to other families, how would I go about that? What should I say so they know I am not abandoning them? – Expanding My Horizons, Flint, Mich.

A.: Call your former employers and tell them that you have the time and want to add more baby-sitting work. Ask them if they need any help. And ask them if they would write you a letter of recommendation that you can use to solicit jobs from other families.

Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.