I got a nice e-mail today from Caroline, the woman in Career Services who really kept me going through my long, frustrating job search. In the e-mail, Caroline e-introduced a woman I'll call "Beth" and explained that Beth had recently sat for the Bar and was looking for a position in my city, blah blah blah, she hoped I'd be willing to share some thoughts with her. Then a couple messages later in my inbox, there was a very nice e-mail from "Beth," asking if I might be willing to chat with her about job searching. Lovely!
Unfortunately, "Beth" is a bitch. Clearly, she doesn't remember my name, and I doubt she'd even recognize me, but oh I remember her.
She is (or at least was) the girlfriend of an acquaintance's roommate, and shortly after I first met her, I had a very negative interaction with her in a class that we shared. Honestly, I don't even remember exactly what happened--I think I came in on the second day of class and accidentally sat in "her" seat, which happens, all the time, and it's effing irritating, everyone knew that your first day seat was yours and that you don't take other people's first day seats. But I remember she was such a bitch about it that I got shitty back with her (which, if you know me outside of this blog, really rarely ever happens, especially with near-strangers) and then called her the C-word later in retelling the incident. And then gave her serious stinkeye (which was definitely returned) the rest of the year.
It was just one of the things that you reflect on later and think, "Who ACTS that way?!?"
So anyway, I have no interest in helping her do anything other than walk in front of a speeding train. But I don't know how to professionally say that to Caroline, or even if I should. Maybe I should just grow up, get over it, and pretend that nothing ever happened and I have no idea who "Beth" is. I mean, it was over seats for class. Big deal.
But she just acted like such an entitled, evil bitch that I really don't want to help her, and I can't believe that I should.
At the same time, I don't want to just ignore the e-mails. I remember too clearly how hard it is to undertake a job search, especially when you feel like everyone else already has a job, and as much as I dislike "Beth," I have no desire to actually make her search more difficult. I don't want to be mean. I just don't want to help.
So finally, after a little deliberation, I sent the following e-mail back to Caroline (minus a few more personal opening sentences):
It’s so lovely to begin to be on the receiving end of these “any ideas??” e-mails (I just got a cold resume and letter from a total stranger at Tulsa!), but this particular one brings me a little dilemma, and I’m not sure how to handle it professionally. Seeing as you’ve always been my go-to question lady, I thought I’d just ask. Being that I attended IU Law classes at the same time as Beth, and being that IU Law is a small school, it’s not unsurprising that we had a couple classes together. I’m sure she doesn’t remember my name, as we were only introduced once, and I doubt she would remember my face, but the opposite is not true. Without turning into an 8th grader, let’s just say I had some negative interactions with her. I don’t want to be petty and unprofessional, but frankly, I have little interest in sharing my bucketfuls of wisdom (ha!) with her. I’m wondering whether a) that’s fine, and that’s why everyone warns you in law school to be good to your peers; or b) I should take the high ground or some other such cliché and agree to talk with her.
Any advice you have would be much appreciated. I hope that this doesn’t cut me off of the networking pipeline, because I really am eager to help in almost every case! I’m just not sure what to do in this particular situation.
So now I'm curious--what do you all think? How would you have reacted? What would you have done?