Lately I have been collecting Costanza Moments. I got the name from the Seinfeld episode when George Costanza puts money in the tip jar, only to find the tipee did not see the deposit. George is presented with a conundrum: leave and appear that he did not tip the man, or take the money out when the employee is not looking and put it back again when he IS looking.
Of course, George chooses the second option and is caught, but my interest is in the dilemma itself. That is, those Catch-22 moments where you are put in a position where either option is awkward.
A recent Costanza moment concerns a gift. A friend's daughter recently graduated from high school, and we gave her a card with $50 in it. When the recipient sent a thank you card, she thanked us for coming to her party, and for the card. But there was no mention of the money.
Now, I know she got the money. If she got the card, she got the money. But did she know that it was from us? Did the money go into an undifferentiated pile? Did she think we just gave her a card and no money? If we had given her a check, we could have checked to see if it had been deposited. Alas, we gave her cash.
Do we let it go? If so, she may (MAY) think we skimped and didn't give her a gift. Not the worst thing in the world, but we DID give her a gift, and we want to make sure she knows we gave it to her. We want her to know we are not the kind of people who would just give her a card for graduation. (Again, the inner Costanza shining through--what's wrong with just giving a card? Nothing!)
If we choose to pursue the inquiry further, how do we ask her? Do we message her and ask if she got our $50? Because we KNOW she got it. After all, we know for a fact she DID receive the card, and the money was in the card. So we can't ask if she got the money because we know she did.
Here's how it could go.
"Did you get our $50?"
"Yes, thank you. I sent you a thank you card, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did, but you didn't mention the money."
"Oh, sorry [you petty little people]."
"I'm not sure. It was a pretty big day for me, and I don't really remember. But if you did, thank you very much [you petty little people] and I'm sorry for not acknowledging your gift. I had a lot on my mind that day."
"I don't think so. Did you give me money?"
"Yes we did. $50."
"Oh, I'm so sorry. I feel terrible for not acknowledging your gift. [I'm such a jerk] Thank you so much."
Is there any way to make sure she knows we gave her money without appearing like jerks? And really, one of the hallmarks of a Costanza moment is that it doesn't really matter if she knows we gave her the money. That's not the point of giving gifts. But we all have a little Costanza in us, that part of us that frets and can't let things go.