Property Versus Propriety

By Wendy Belzberg

Published February 13, 2004, issue of February 13, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

My friend of 20 years called to say that $150 disappeared from her purse while she was at our house. She had left her bag indoors while we were dining outside. She pointed her finger at our 12-year-old daughter. When I questioned our daughter, she was hurt and bewildered. We have never had an incident when the property of a guest went missing. The accusation is hanging over our longstanding friendship.

Stolen moments

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see that someone is lying. And, unless there was someone else in your house at the time, it is either your daughter or your friend. You know your daughter. Is it possible that you have your head buried in the sand and that she is a bold-faced liar? Is yours the kind of household in which it’s possible to admit a misstep? Once you’ve taken a cold, hard look at the situation, consider that the entire incident may be the product of your friend’s imagination. Your daughter’s age does not make her the obvious culprit. Blood being thicker than water, the friendship is likely to be tainted until the matter is entirely resolved. Unless you have a hidden video camera somewhere, your only hope is for a full confession.

* * *

I am considering filing a lawsuit that is sure to attract media attention. The news coverage could result in a scandal for the company in question. I believe that I am fully in the right and can prove that this company was guilty of unethical behavior, which resulted in the loss of almost $1 million dollars to my consulting firm. My concern is that a lawsuit may make me look like a “poor sport” in my professional circles.

— Courting disaster?

I do not believe that a protracted lawsuit is a productive use of time. It is always better to settle quietly behind closed doors. You may need to engage a lawyer and to file suit to get the other party’s attention — even if you do not intend to go to court. A threatening legal letter can work wonders, especially when joined with the specter of bad publicity.

That said, if there is no doubt in your mind about the ethics in question here, you have a moral obligation — to all concerned — to go the distance. The price of walking away from your principles may be steeper than the cost of the lawsuit. Only you can answer that question.

* * *

When we were still together, my ex and I willed our assets to each other. Inasmuch as he has a new partner, would it be right of me to change my will? He says he has no intention of changing his will.

— Unwilling and unsure

What your ex says and what your ex does may be two very different things. (Why am I wondering if you are by any chance the wealthier of the two?) In any event, it makes no sense for either of you to name the other as sole beneficiary. You are no longer together and, assuming no children are involved, the break should be clean. You presumably will become involved with someone else, and no new love interest — particularly a life partner — will take kindly to the news that your worldly goods belong in perpetuity to his predecessor.

Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at wendy@forward.com.






Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.