Situations When I Will or Will Not Feel Sorry for You

Posted on May 19, 2011


Sometimes you get mad at someone, a someone who probably deserves it–like my friend Todd for instance–and after Todd leaves the room my wife whispers, “Today is Todd’s birthday.”  Everyone shakes their heads, and I look like a jerk because I got mad at Todd on his special day.

Tough luck, Todd!  If he had it coming, a birthday shouldn’t let him off the hook because everybody gets a birthday–Todd did nothing out of the ordinary to deserve one so I’m not going to treat him any differently.

If I had to fire somebody, and I told my secretary to call him in to my office, and she whispered, “Today is Todd’s birthday,” I wouldn’t hesitate to fire him unless he was very popular in the office and firing him on his birthday would make everybody else hate me.  On the other hand, if Todd was disliked–maybe because he was very touchy with the female employees or even worse, a Yankees fan–I might actually win extra points with the rest of the staff by firing him on his birthday above any other day.

Allow me to provide some guidelines for whether I will or will not feel sorry for you according to what my secretary whispers:

Maybe: His girlfriend left him today.
Yes: His wife left him today.
No: Your wife left him today.

Maybe: He’s dying.  The doctors say he only has fifteen years to live.
Yes: He’s dying right now.  He just collapsed on the floor and is grabbing his chest.  Should I call an ambulance or tell him you want to see him?
No: He’s been dead for six months.

Maybe: He brought you a present this morning.
Yes: He brought you an expensive present this morning.
No: He brought you the same present you gave him for Christmas.

Maybe: Tomorrow she’s going to the doctor to learn if she needs an operation.
Yes: Tomorrow she’s going in for an operation.
No:Tomorrow she’s playing the game Operation.


Maybe: She’s going through a hard time right now.
Yes: She’s doing hard time right now.
No: She’s having a hard time telling time right now.

Maybe: He just finished rehab.
Yes: He just finished rehab.  Also his wife just finished rehab.  Also his kids just finished rehab.  Also his pets just finished rehab.
No: He just finished watching Doctor Drew’s show Celebrity Rehab.

Maybe: His car got stolen.
Yes: He got in a car accident.
No: He got in a car accident while stealing your car.

Maybe: His aunt died.
Yes:  His very, very attractive aunt died.
No: Aunt Vivian from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air died.

Maybe: He’s celebrating a holy day for the new religion he created.
Yes: He’s celebrating a holy day for his new religion which considers you a deity.
No: He’s celebrating a holy day for his new religion which considers you the Devil.


Maybe: He and his wife are separating.
Yes: He and his conjoined-twin are separating.
No: He and his salsa partner are separating.

Maybe: He served in the war.
Yes: He served in the war and was a war hero.
No: During the war he served hero sandwiches.  To the enemy.

Posted in: Columns