Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Reference Me Not

I have mentioned before about how I don't dig references. 

Consider: One day you are feeling not quite up to speed. You didn't get enough sleep, or you are worrying about something, or you just smashed your toe on the way out the door. Meaning, you are rather preoccupied, focusing on simply getting out of the house to do what has to be done. 

Your neighbor in the driveway next door calls a cheery "Good morning!" However, due to the aforementioned reasons, you don't hear, or are not aware. You clamber into your car without flicking a glance to the other driveway, while your neighbor feels a little stupid. 

Now, you may say that was a completely harmless "oops" moment. But that sort of incident can color the other's perception of you, or your child. So when providing "info," he/she may not be so zealous. You have been demoted from "great people" to "okay people." 

Or, say you were a rather rambunctious child, and in the innocence of youth trespassed a bit on someone's good will. Sure, you are a reformed adult now, but do they see that? Not really. They see the hyper kid who was constantly overturning their garbage cans or prank-ringing their doorbell. 

My aunt, a social worker, once explained the premise well: "Sticky paper." You know how when you open a drawer to get something, and the paper lining sometimes comes along with it?
Via the
Pandora's box, or when they say in Law & Order, "They opened the door, Your Honor." 

Deep buried memories can have a way of surfacing in the oddest of places. While no one intends to be unkind, sometimes tales from Christmas Past, so to speak, can haunt us.

The references a guy puts down will obviously only say glowing things, right? That's why he's giving out their phone number. But let's say I called someone who lives in the area, who hasn't been vetted? Then, let the sticky paper fly.

Therefore, I abstain from references, unless I have sneaking suspicion about a criminal past. Relationships are messy enough without dragging in the opinions of random strangers.


Lost and Found said...

I think everyone knows that references aren't good for finding out if a person is "good." But if approached the right way- interview style- you can learn a lot about a person that isn't "good vs. bad," but "for me vs. not for me." Asking open-ended questions such as "What does he/she value?" forces answers more informative than "Yes, he/she values (whatever you asked if they value)."

Princess Lea said...

Who the heck knows what someone else values? Does my friends know what I value? Many people only know what they themselves value, and project that onto others.

I didn't only mean in terms of "good" vs. "bad." In the end, you really can only begin to know someone by having a conversation. Maybe that's why I seem to rate high in one-and-dones . . .

Some Poems Don't Rhyme said...

Sometimes references help to get a general picture of what the person is like. When you're starting from scratch, a reference can at least tell you, "He's tall. He's thought out. He comes to shuir on time. He's one of my closest talmeidim." Etc. That's worth something.

But I do see the other side. And I once had a mother of guy ask me about my friend what her life goals were. Really?

Princess Lea said...

One thing I am constantly amazed by is how the person I meet and the person references describe have very little in common.

Tall is relative, belieeeeeve me.

I just don't see the point calling a bunch of people when in the end, (1) if he lives in the NY area, going on the date would be more time-efficient and (2) it is how two people interact. They can sound perfect or terrible on paper but the chemistry wins out. So many opposites pair up.

Lost and Found said...

I know that you value, highly, good manners and etiquette. I know that you value your figure and eating healthy. I know that you place a lot of value on being cultured and worldly. I see that you value halacha by the way you talk about Shabbos/Yom Tov makeup. This is but a partial list that I came up with in less than 5 minutes. With a bit more time, I'm sure I could come up with a lot more. (If I'm wrong about anything, it's because I don't actually know you as your references do)

Anyone who you're putting down as references, I'd hope, would know these things about you if I know them from reading your blog.

That being the case, the guy who has spent his entire life in yeshiva? Probably not for you. The guy who has no education to speak of? Eh, no. The guy who has never worked a day in his life? Unlikely. The guy who just returned from a 1-year hiatus in yeshiva in Israel? I'd be surprised to hear you say yes to that.

It would take some thought to figure out how you would phrase your questions in a way that would get you good answers, but I definitely think it can be done.

Princess Lea said...

Ahem, yes. You are scarily on the mark. But even then, I have gone out with those type of fellows you mentioned. Sometimes because the shadchan is someone close and I can't say no, or everything else about him sounds okay, so for the purposes of being open, I go out on a date. In NY dating is not complicated, and sometimes just meeting the person is easier than calling and inconveniencing so many people.

Lost and Found said...

Going out with a guy that sounds okay aside from "x" I can understand.

With regards to dating in the city you live in (I'm guessing that's what you meant when you said NY), that's very true. The reason to call is to avoid wasting your night instead of cuddling up with a book (or working 0:-)).

Princess Lea said...

Yes, but if I go out no one can accuse me of being picky. I do miss my book-cuddling, though.

Lost and Found said...

Oy, what a reason to go on a date.....

Princess Lea said...

I sleep the sleep of the just.