DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working on a project for several years. It paused for two years because of COVID-19, but it started up again last month. I noticed that one of the key freelancers with whom I had worked on this project was nowhere to be found. When I asked about him, I got the cold shoulder. I am grateful that I was invited back, but I find it odd that he is the only one who was left out. I want to reach out to him to see how he’s doing. I talked to him a couple of times during lockdown, which was nice. I feel uncomfortable now, though. I don’t want to tell him that everybody is back on the job except for him. On the other hand, it would be terrible if he found out and I hadn't given him the heads-up. I consider him to be a friend. Should I tell him? -- Excluded
DEAR EXCLUDED: Put yourself in his shoes. Would you want to know that you had been excluded from this project, especially if there’s little to no chance that you would be brought back on? I think that’s doubtful. Let it go for now. Do not contact him. Just do your job. Do the best you can and keep your head down.
If you do happen to run into him or talk to him and this gig comes up, admit that you are back working there. If he asks why you didn’t tell him about it, you can honestly say that you immediately asked if he would be returning. When you learned that he would not, you decided to leave it alone. You did not think that rubbing his nose in it would be good for anyone.