Tiebreakers: The Case of the Law Firm Trick-or-Treat

Update: I tabulated the votes in the comments, and Macy got 4, Ryan got 3, and . . . Wade got 1. Macy wins. (And if you count the 4 votes she got from our judges, she got 8 against Ryan’s 4.) Case closed.

TieBreakers standard image

As we mentioned in this post yesterday, we’re instituting a new series called Tiebreakers.  The point of this series is to have readers submit a quarrel or tiff they had with their spouse or significant other in order to have impartial observers (us) give their take on who was right and who was wrong.  In other words, we’re offering you the opportunity to find out once and for all if you’re the crazy one or the sane one. We also invite readers to add their comments and votes, which we’ll tally at the end of the day.

And now, on to the inaugural installment of Tiebreakers:  The Case of the Law Firm Trick-or-Treat, which comes to us courtesy of Ryan and his wife, Macy.

Plaintiff (Macy): One day as I was thumbing through emails on Ryan’s phone (which I do occasionally, and feel just fine about) I came across an email from his office manager saying that everyone was invited to bring in their kids on Halloween in costume to trick-or-treat around the office.  I thought “we might have a lot going on that day, but it could be fun.  He must have forgotten to mention it.”  The day before Halloween, he still hadn’t mentioned it, and I heard from a friend of mine who was taking her daughter down to her husband’s law firm to trick or treat.  So I decided to call him on it.  I picked up the phone and asked him if he’d forgotten to tell me something.  Turns out he hadn’t ‘forgotten’ to tell me, just that he didn’t want to invite us.  That’s when I got pretty weirded out.   Fine if he doesn’t approve of the activity –  I wasn’t desperate to go.  But if your office is having a party for your children to come trick-or-treat, don’t you think you should at least mention it and leave it up to your wife and kids?  They might actually enjoy it.  Pretty crotchety, if you ask me.

t or t

We’re just sitting on the doorstep because our Dad doesn’t think we’re cute enough to show to his friends.

Defendant (Ryan): Three things:  1. Halloween these days is crrrazy. Kids now do ten to twelve costumed events prior to the big day, and by the time Halloween actually rolls around,  the novelty is gone, and the light sugar buzz has morphed into clinical dependency and mild diabetes.  They didn’t need this.   2.  Not only would my office trick-or-treating activity have been literally the sixth costumed event for my kids, but also the only one involving serious professionals sitting in their offices trying to accomplish real life things in the middle of the parade.  Every smart parent operates by one simple rule:  To me, my kids are heaven’s own cherubs;  to most other adults, they are just one level above germ-spreading vermin.  Lawyers in their offices rarely even have any candy, and are even less likely to be interested in being interrupted by someone else’s masquerading kids.   3. My kids are really, really cute.  But it makes me really uncomfortable to put them in situations where adults feel compelled to tell me how cute they are.  When the adults are grouchy lawyers who also happen to be my bosses, in the middle of their work day, forget about it.  When the email came, I dismissed it as something I wasn’t interested in, and then forgot about it.   It’s not that I ever intended to hide it from Macy and the kids.  It’s just that I didn’t intend for them to come.  Happy Halloween everyone!

Lucy Witch

Am I cute?  Yes.  But so are koala bears, and you don’t see any of them running around law firms.

So, there’s the case.  Here are the rulings from our panel of distinguished judges:

Christian: First, I strongly condemn Macy’s email snooping practices.  That said, my vote on the larger issue goes to her.  Ryan should have shared the information about the trick-or-treat with her, and then made his arguments against it.  Although, this being a law firm function, the kids would have to pay per piece of candy as well as time spent handing it out, so that’s a downer.

Rebecca (Christian’s wife): Why in the world would you NOT mention the trick-or-treating to your wife just to let her know and to hear her opinion on the matter?  She might have strong feelings (maybe she just wants to meet your co-workers and make sure your secretary is ugly).  My vote goes to Macy.  Creepy maneuver, Ryan.  Makes a woman wonder what else you’re hiding.

Davis: In not telling Macy, Ryan sought to get the result he wanted without engaging in the process of negotiation and compromise, which, as I think about it, is what most authoritarian rulers want when they overthrow democratic governments.  So, I’m ruling in favor of Macy/George Washington and against Ryan/Kim Jong-Il.

Melissa (Davis’ wife): I’m with Macy on this one.  I think it’s strange to keep secrets from your wife.  I think that even if you don’t want your significant other to do something, it’s better to let them know about it and then explain why you don’t want them to do it rather than just hide it from them. What else are you hiding from Macy, Ryan?

Ron: (I guess we’re just ignoring the fact that Macy was snooping through Ryan’s emails.)  If Macy were a member of a woman’s club and received an invitation from said club to bring her family to a function that she did not want to attend, would she be obligated to see if Ryan felt differently?  No.  In like manner, I don’t think Ryan was obligated to check with Macy regarding his work function.

So, there you have it:  4 votes for Macy, 1 for Ryan.  Ryan should apologize to Macy, and to invite her and the kids down to the law firm on a random Tuesday in January, where he must take them office to office to meet all of his colleagues, without explaining why they’re there, exclaiming at least five times, “Seriously, though, can you believe how cute these kids are?”

Commenters: What’s your take? How do you vote?<!–

Submit your own dispute to the Tiebreakers by writing to tiebreakers at dontdodumbthings dot com.

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31 Responses to Tiebreakers: The Case of the Law Firm Trick-or-Treat

  1. Rachel says:

    When you’re married, all things are in common (excluding secrets kept for birthday/holiday surpirses) and so the husband and wife have every right to see each other’s emails and texts- if you’re worried about her seeing it, then you must have something to hide or be ashamed of. You’re married now, deal with it.

    And, the lawyers at said firm were probably planning on or unable to avoid the herd of candy-hoarding kids that were going to be in the office that day and so whats 4 more to that number? In my opinion, most professionals are more engaged/personal with someone whose family they know. So, it would have been a win/win for both Ryan and Macy. Ryan, you lose on this one…big time.

  2. Eliza says:

    Dang funny stuff. I am TOTALLY with Macy, dang weird of you not to tell her. I would be super mad and weirded out if Josh did that. But I do have to say, Ron makes a good point, even then I still agree with macy.

  3. Braden says:

    FWIW, I think Ryan is absolutely, completely right on the merits and totally wrong on the execution. Your failure to bring Mace into this was sort of like a cop who doesn’t read Miranda rights to a serial killer who then goes free on a small error in execution.

  4. Davis says:

    Braden, that is the perfect analogy for this situation.

  5. Ryan says:

    Did you guys not see where I said “Happy Halloween?” No points for courtesy? Macy didn’t even say anything nice to the judges at all. So who’s the crotchety one?

    Okay, I get that everyone thinks Macy is married to a big mean guy who doesn’t tell her about office Halloween activities. That may actually even be true. But let’s not miss the fact that I’m a lawyer, and Macy isn’t, so I probably deserved to win this one, to avoid the embarrassment of losing an important litigation to my non-lawyer wife. The panel may have failed to understand the delicate politics involved in this one, so I’m sorry to have put them in the position to have gotten this decision so dreadfully wrong.

    Anyway, Ron, give me a call sometime if you ever want to start up a cool blog or anything.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    First of all, I am all in favor of an “open email/text policy” between spouses. I would hardly call that snooping. It is a little weird that Ryan didn’t mention the trick-or-treating, but the recluse in me is jealous of anyone whose husband doesn’t insist on his wife and/or family attending work functions.

    And Ryan, after reading this, I feel compelled to tell you that you do have really cute kids.

    Final vote: Macy. Although I agree with Ryan’s logic, there would have been better way to handle it.

  7. ron says:

    maybe it’s my position on issues like these that is the reason i’m still single. or maybe because i’m still single, i’m the only one among the panel of judges who is able to think practically on issues like these. i’m undecided.

    but it seems like married couples have tons and tons of decisions to make as a couple. and while i agree many of those decisions should be made together, it seems like certain ones may not merit the concern of both partners, like a halloween parade in a law office.

    regarding the snooping through e-mails, i totally disagree that it’s acceptable. it’s not an issue of keeping secrets. it’s an issue of discretion. there may be certain e-mails of a sensitive nature that wouldn’t be appropriate for a wife or husband to see. what if the husband were the bishop and had received an e-mail from a ward member that was of a private or sensitive nature? or what if the wife received an e-mail from a close girlfriend sharing personal information that she didn’t want shared with others?

    ryan, it would be my pleasure. may i recommend ryanandronbestfriendsforever.com?

  8. Davis says:

    This is awesome. Every marriage needs this.

  9. anonymous says:

    Not discussing something that isn’t worth discussing does not qualify as hiding something from your spouse. I have to side with Ryan and Ron. Frankly, I’m disappointed by the lack of cojones by the male contributors. This post should be about reading your spouse’s emails and texts – not a forced Halloween event.

    I do not apologize for my opinion, but even as I write it I fear that my wife will see through my anonymous cover and we will be presenting the next case to the Tiebreakers as a result.

  10. BennyBoy says:

    I’ve got to side with Ryan on this one. I work in a similar professional environment (large CPA firm), and hate these types of “touchy-feeling” events … and so does everyone else. It is Ryan’s workplace (not Macy’s), and he is the one that spends 10+ hours a day working with the people there. If he doesn’t want to drag his kids in for show-and-tell, that’s his prerogative.

    And regarding the email snooping … that’s just plain crazy. Forget about the weird lack of trust issues, if she’s looking through his work email accounts, she’s potentially violating client confidentiality. Hope Ryan’s employer doesn’t find out about it. If it doesn’t cost him his job, it is still almost certainly a “career limiting event.”

  11. Christian says:

    You know, Ron and Anonymous do make a great points about Macy’s illegal email stalking. That is a marital felony. I’m not sure why women feel that sort of thing is ok. That’s because, in her heart of hearts, every women is a born stalker. I had to learn to be a proficient stalker over the course of many, many years. Women are naturals at it from the age of one.

  12. anonymous says:

    To anonymous:
    You are exactly the type of person that ends up having affairs or is hopelessly addicted to porn because “Not discussing something that isn’t worth discussing does not qualify as hiding something from your spouse” is your mantra. There are quite a few behaviors that could fall under that blanket. Live a life that allows you to not only WANT to share everything with your significant other, but find joy in doing so. Imagine that.

  13. BennyBoy says:

    or “touchy-feely” … I think “touchy-feeling” events end up with people going to jail. Sorry about that.

  14. Christian says:

    Oh, dear. We were hoping to keep all accusations of small marital disagreements leading to the A word and the P word out of things.

    Let’s keep things civil. We are already getting letters from religious authorities and the Association of Effective, Credentialed Marriage Counselors that we need to shut tiebreakers down, so let’s just try to keep things casual.

  15. Ben Pratt says:

    My department is having a holiday dinner this week. I didn’t bother telling my wife about it, mostly because we did go once, and that was sufficient for us.

    I’m amused at anonymous 2’s thought that the belief that not telling my wife about such things doesn’t equate with hiding something will lead to hopeless porn addiction and affairs.

  16. Ryan says:

    Some funny comments above (and a few unsettling ones).

    I just want to make one little factual clarification about the emails being read. Yes, Macy occasionally glances through my email. She does it with my knowledge and consent. No, she never reads any work related email, and yes, I actually agree with Elizabeth that spouses generally ought to have access to each others’ communications with the outside world, with some limited exceptions. So, in this instance, any stalking involved was purely above board. Anyway, let’s not be too harsh on a person reading her spouse’s emails, ESPECIALLY, when the spouse turns out to be HIDING EMAILS ABOUT SECRET HOLIDAY FAMILY PARTIES!

    Also, when tempted to make a comment that makes strong accusations against another commenter, let’s just try to remember where we are. That’s right, we’re at dontdodumbthings.com. I guess that doesn’t really make any difference, but still, try and remember.

  17. Andrea W. says:

    This my friends, is playing with fire. Funny fire, but fire nonetheless — good luck :). It cracks me up how righteously indignant we get in other people’s behalf. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished for a neutral third party in our marital conversations!

  18. Braden says:

    Good call, Ange. I would only add that there are such neutral 3rd parties readily available–bishops, marriage counselors, etc.

  19. Davis says:

    I have always loved playing with fire, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  20. Ryan says:

    Braden, you left out dontdodumbthings.com . I assume that was unintentional.

  21. Braden says:

    Sorry, hit “submit comment too soon!”

  22. Wade says:

    I vote Ryan for 2 reasons.

    1st. Ryan said: “When the email came, I dismissed it as something I wasn’t interested in, and then forgot about it.” If Ryan had said something like “I knew Macy would like to go if she knew, but I didn’t want to fight that fight so I deliberately avoided telling her, in fact, I hid the email from her,” then I think Macy wins on Ryan’s major due process violation.

    But Ryan forgot. How many emails do lawyers at Ryan’s firm get during the day that, due to time constraints, they scan, do a quick triage on, and then never think about again? (with personal experience on this point) way too many.

    2nd. Since Macy frequently reads Ryan’s emails, she herself “knows or should have known” about the Halloween party even without Ryan telling her. Which she did, so how can Ryan be at fault for not telling her when Macy already knew, and Ryan knew that Macy “knows or should have known” since he knows she scans his emails? Sounds like someone wanted to have their cake and eat it too.

  23. Andrea W. says:

    First of all let me just say that when I said you’re playing with fire, I didn’t mean that as a warning as much as an observation and let me also say that I’m more than happy to sit back and watch.

    Secondly, after reading all the comments again I had to chuckle at the commenter who was chastising the men for lacking ….courage while he posted anonymously worried his wife still might find him out. LOL. Are we wives really that scary?

  24. Davis says:

    Alfred Pennyworth: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

    Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?

    Alfred Pennyworth: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

  25. Ryan says:

    Wade puts his finger on it. The act of reviewing one in 200 daily emails and quickly putting it to the back of the priority stack is a very different thing that thinking it could raise a conflict and preferring to keep it hidden. ‘Triage’ is a default mode for busy professionals going through their email, and is exactly the mode I was in when I received that email. Only Wade understands me. In light of that, I’m hereby triaging all comments besides Wade’s. And Ron’s.

  26. Greg says:

    Tiebreakers is a tremendous public service. I’m amazed it’s free.

  27. Norm says:

    My vote if for Wade

    (I know I’m supposed to vote for Ryan or Macy but Wade was so astute in pointing out the crux of the matter that I vote for him)

  28. Christian says:

    I’m actually changing my vote to Wade as well.

  29. Andrea says:

    I side with Ryan on this one, both as a working woman and as a wife who reads my husband’s emails. Case in point.

    Conversation overheard outside my office this morning….

    First single lady: “oh, f*#&! There are kids coming to the office today?”
    Second single lady: “yeah it’s the kids party.”
    First single lady: “well, call it off. I still have a hangover from last night. What time are they showing up?”
    Second single lady: “I think they’ll be here around 3:30pm.”
    First single lady: “oh, good. I’ll be gone by then.”

  30. MIssy says:

    I vote for Ryan. As a lawyer I may be biased towards his side anyway because lawyers gotta stick together against non-lawyers to maintain our dominance. But aside from that, Ryan wins because children frankly are at risk in the law firm environment, and here’s why:

    I already feel an immense amount of resentment towards the life-suckage that is my law office. Forcing costumed children on me at work, and not letting me bill for it, only increases my irritation with the world, not ameliorate it. I don’t think you should want your children to be around us kind of people, because lawyers are basically human pressure cookers with equal part hostility to ambition. And think about it: we’re really only one step down from a Hollywood talent agent, and those people will eat your baby if you’re not careful.

    So in this situation, not only is Ryan sparing his coworkers from yet another distraction to their productivity, but he’s just being a good dad by keeping his children safe at home. You don’t mess around with safety, do you?

  31. Christian says:

    “And think about it: we’re really only one step down from a Hollywood talent agent, and those people will eat your baby if you’re not careful.”

    “but he’s just being a good dad by keeping his children safe at home. ”

    I know I’m late in the game here, but I needed to tell you, Missy, what a great take you had.

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