DEAR HARRIETTE: I just saw an announcement for a promotion and award for a man I have known for many years. When I knew him, he was a cheat. Among other things, he “bought” something from me and never paid for it. I followed up multiple times, and he just blew me off, saying he was broke and he would pay me when he could. Now I see his face glowing with his accolades, and it turns my stomach.
Should I reach out to him and say something? Should I ask him for my money? I wonder what is the right thing to do, all things considered. I don’t mean to be petty, but he is hardly an upstanding citizen in my book. On the other hand, it’s not like he is running for president. His accolades don’t really make a difference in my life. I just hate that he’s being lauded as this perfect person when I know he is not. -- Liar
DEAR LIAR: Evaluate your knowledge about this man and the award he is receiving. Are the transgressions you know about him worth exposing him at this time? This is important in gaining perspective. For example, when someone has committed a heinous crime like sexual assault or money laundering and is running for president of the United States or even president of a company, it would be wise to say something -- even though often the one speaking up gets maligned rather than the one being accused. Your moral compass has to guide your steps on this.
In your case, if this man did commit a crime by not paying for goods received, but you think it was a small transgression, you may choose to forgive him. Even with forgiveness, the time may come when you communicate with him and let him know that you are happy for his current success, but you still remember when his behavior was dishonorable, specifically toward you. You can ask him to right those wrongs. My recommendation would be to do so privately.