It's been almost a year since the economy began to crater and people's worlds started crumbling. During this year, you've thought a lot about karma and generosity and how we all ought to avoid shame and blame.
But every once in awhile … a long ago colleague gets in touch, for the first time in a long time.
Come to think of it, for the first time since the last time he was out of work.
He wants to "pick your brain" about the job market. You wonder what that could mean, since the sum of your understanding of the job market is: It sucks.
He's a taker. He was a taker when you worked together—quick to ask a favor, slow to do one, always worried he would be taken advantage of.
You find takers bother you more now than they did before, because there is less to go around, because these days even the givers are in need.
You decide you're not going to get back to this fucking guy. Because you know he's going to ask you to give him a recommendation. And when he does, you might have to tell him:
For any job you might apply for, I can think of a dozen unemployed people who are more talented, harder-working, more pleasant than you—and frankly better smelling, too.