DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a nightclub with some of my friends from work, and while I was there, I saw one of my neighbor’s children. This guy has got to be underage. He is tall, so maybe that’s how he got in, but he’s definitely under 21. He was hanging out and drinking with a group of young people. He never seemed to get out of control, but he shouldn’t have been there, and he shouldn’t have been drinking. I spoke to him, so he knows that I saw him.
Should I tell his mother that I saw him? I know kids like to push the envelope. He may even have a fake ID -- I don’t know. I’m not trying to get him in trouble, but I think his mother legitimately should know that her son was in a place where he was too young to be. How should I address this? -- Minor Infraction
DEAR MINOR INFRACTION: As a parent, I would appreciate a heads-up if a neighbor saw my child at a nightclub. I would want to know even if my child was of age. What’s important is for you to share the facts without emotion or judgment. You should tell your neighbor that you saw him and what you observed about his behavior, including that he was always in control of himself when you saw him.
Many young people experiment with alcohol well before their 21st birthdays, but it is also smart to tell the mother that you saw him drinking. Safety is a serious concern for anyone who drinks. Who knows how he and his friends were traveling? In any case, informing his mother should prompt a conversation between them that may lead to him making smarter choices.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I got an email request from a company asking me to give a recommendation for someone who worked with me many years ago. I vaguely remember the guy, but that’s it -- vaguely. I don’t remember the years he worked with me, what he did -- anything. This guy did not write to me to ask if I would write a letter of recommendation. I don’t even know how to contact him. I do recall that he was pleasant and that he left of his own accord. But that’s no recommendation. Do I ignore the request? Or do I write what I do recall? I don’t know what would be most helpful. -- Recommendation
DEAR RECOMMENDATION: Take a moment to recall whatever you can about working with this man. Do your best to remember -- at least in general terms -- what his job was. In your letter, speak to the man’s character, personality and skills to the best of your ability. Don’t make anything up. You can say he worked for you many years ago without giving exact dates.
If this man ever does contact you directly, let him know he would get a much better recommendation if he preps the people he’s planning on asking to help him in advance of them getting what may seem like a random request.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)