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February 15, 2011


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i'm just writing this comment to see if it works as two of my previous efforts at commenting on your brilliant blog in the past have not appeared!

Jeri  Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

Since you asked...
As long as you don't confuse the two names...I wouldn't worry about what the others do. Kind of Keeping your side of the street clean. It's between Maureen/Hilda and whoever.
In the lying dept...maybe you need to check your motives. Is it ego or honest service. Fess up and move on.

MS. Sponsorpanties

As to Maureen/Hilda, I think it is kind that you are concerned with their feelings. Trying to fix or control the environment to fix or control the feelings, not so much? As the manager you are responsible for setting the overall tone of the workplace. The big book says something about sweeping our side of the street. My humble (giggles) opinion is that if you are very circumspect in making sure that YOU never call one by the wrong name, no matter how much of a hurry YOU get into, or apologize sincerely should you make the gaff, would set that example. Doing wrong to one to make a point is still doing wrong. Names are important. I know how much it has bothered me when someome doesn't get mine right.

As to the lying as easy as breathing, I volunteer at a rehab. I help facilitate a meeting on a weekend morning. On one such morning I was running a lil late but still chose to do the drive-through. Ours has the "2 lane" so naturally I (being the humble soul I am) tried very hard to "lap" the car at the other lane. Only after they gunned it and got in front of me did I realize that I might know these two ladies. I was horrified at my actions and to make it better I started to concoct this story (should I run into them at a meeting) about how I was trying to get in front of them to pay for their order. LOL, there was no-one in that car but me and God and yet I had that lie spun solid gold in the space of 20 seconds. Guess what the meeting was about that morning?

When our spiritual house is in order, we all want to do good. And trying to find the reasoning behind it is healthy. Are we looking to feed them, or our ego. I believe you truly had the desire to feed the hungry, to give what has been freely given to you. But telling honesty to "take a hike" ...maybe just a poor choice of words.

You will work it out. You are a good man with lots of experience, strength and hope to offer. I routinely quote you and direct others to this site.
Be blessed today.


God works "behind the scenes" so I don't think He minds when we do. Your motives are clear, honorable, and from love. The guilt (I am only guessing here) comes from the grumpy old fart (not you!) sitting in at the committee meeting this week. He's a blowhard and hates random acts of kindness. Give him a donut--he'll shut up. :-D



My opinion regarding giving the food to the hungry couple... the act would have stayed anonymous if no one had asked you about it and you had not told anyone about it (at work, in your real life -- this blog is different, I get that). When asked by the other manager, telling the truth there, given that this was not something you wouldn't have "gotten in trouble" for, warranted you to tell the truth. The act would still be clean and kind -- you didn't go in and announce what a fabulous person you were by your act to the rest of your co-workers. Does that make sense?

Regarding Hilda and Maureen... Are you 100% sure that the reason your co-workers call Hilda by Maureen's name is because they do not really SEE Hilda? I can see how you came to that conclusion because it sounds like Maureen isn't called Hilda. However, I suspect you are guessing at the reasons behind this slip of tongue.

I always try to remember that all people have their OWN HP. Meaning, perhaps this is Hilda's path, to learn how to stand up for herself when called by another name. Also, I try to take what people say as their truth. If I try to read behind their responses and imagine what they REALLY mean, I run into trouble.

Example: I have two female bosses at work. Let's call one Lisa and the other Kathy. Lisa is smaller and looks nothing like Kathy. And to be honest, I like Kathy a lot more. However, in the beginning, I kept calling Kathy by Lisa's name. (Not coot with your new boss!) I don't know why I did this, it certainly wasn't because I favored Lisa or Lisa had a bigger presence... it just was.

My opinion/advice is to keep being your loving, caring self with Hilda. When she does great work, tell her! Be interested in Hilda as a person. Who knows? Hilda may be the one with the stronger sense of self and REALLY be fine with being called Maureen by accident. She knows who she is, likes herself and finds the whole thing... humorous! Do we really ever know what people are thinking unless they tell us?

Still lovin' ya, Mr. SP!


Gordon Bennett Mr SP! Give yourself a break!

Maureen & Hilda - Seems to me you are using your recovery experience and wisdom to help smooth a possible resentment for another person. It is an act of kindness. Good teamwork. If you are in a management/superviser role with M & H then it is important that you do whatever you feel is necessary to create a positive working enviroment. You are doing your job, using the skills they perceived in you when they hired you.

It's not manipulative in any harmful sense. We are all manipulated and manipulative, it is inescapable and unavoidable. We just have to try to manipulate in a kind and positive way.

Right. Now for the lying. Have you heard the one about the ship's captain in WW2? He was a Roman Catholic Christian. He had just destroyed an enemy submarine and a sailor was burning in oil in the sea. He pleaded for the captain to shoot him. Later the captain asked a nun what he should have done. The nun said. "I do not know. I do know that whatever you did, it was the right thing".

OK. You did the right thing. The problem lies not in the action. You could have told them to wait and then taken food out with you when you left and given it to them. (And please don't go 'confessing' to your boss. It will just make her life difficult and embarrass both of you.)

The problem lies, as you have identified, in that sense of deja vu, in that this might cause some other less than desirable behaviours to surface. A thin end of the wedge. You don't have to open the gates of hell any further. Just shut them.

So learn and move on. No-one's died, you haven't committed any crimes.

Work in progress Mr SP.


Oh, I forgot, likewise about your blogging colleague. God - the Higher Power uses ordinary coincidences, happy coincidences, with ordinary people to work his purposes out, just as much, if not more often, than inexplicable miraculous intervention. You could just have been being used as His instrument in this case.


When I read the piece on the couple who wanted food it warmed my heart that you did this act without even a second thought. When you lied to your manager it made my heart skip a beat, because for me that would have been a fear driven response, something I would have to remember so I could cover it up later, and something that could possibly lose trust from the other if discovered.

As for Maureen - I thought it was sweet until you announced it to the manager and the co-worker. If I was Maureen I would have been embarrassed and hurt if I had heard the conversation. Making efforts on your own to quietly assist her in overcoming what you perceive as her low self esteem is admirable, but announcing your unconfirmed assessment to others about her difficulties could have the opposite effect. You were able to help the blogger without announcing it to others – I am curious what made you say something to your manager and co-worker about Maureen?

I suffer from low self-esteem and have found a single person can have a profound effect. What are required – for me – are trust, support, and this person TRULY believing in me and it all takes time. No one is going to “fix” me. But I can learn to love, trust, and believe in myself if even one other person can too. I believe one of your quotes from another post goes something like this . . . “The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.” I believe the same concept applies to Maureen. The only way to make her believe in herself is to believe in her.

As always – thank you so much for sharing your heart.


To me the question is, "What is my motivation?" and to try to stop over-thinking. Sometimes we need to "Just do it" and leave the rest to God.

David Smith

I used to worry a lot about motives, which is good to a point, but then it started to trip me up before I got a handle on it.

First off, is the deed loving to the other person as far as you can tell? If so, do it.

If I spent time second-guessing my motives I still would be trying to get out of bed 35 years ago. Keep motives and deeds separate in that respect.

(Should I comment? What are my motives? Am I...)


Hey there Mr S.P.,
Just found this place a little over a week ago, and I really like it.. I like to say " take my advise,I'm not using it "
I think you already know the answer to what your asking.If it didnt bother you I dont think the issue.s would have come up.
No matter what my motives are, dihonesty is dishonesty, and the longer I am walking this road of sobriaty, (and want to stay comfortable in my skin) the less dishonesty I can tolerate in myself.


Maybe Maureen would be comforted to know that she is in good company as this anecdote from the life of the great Dame Judi Dench illustrates (I excerpt from the New York Times and provide a link below):

"...Ms. Dench said another get-over-yourself moment came in 1986, when a London theater was named after her. The announcer at the naming ceremony inexplicably gave her this introduction: "Here she is! Miss Judy Geeson." (Ms. Geeson is a British actress.)

Ms. Dench said her husband, Michael Williams, who died in 2001, was upset but that she was not. “It’s very good for you to have things like that happen," she said stretched out on the Four Seasons sofa. "Don't presume that you are so special that mistakes can’t happen to you."



Afterthought: Suggesting people try to call Maureen by the right name is a good thing imo.

Suggesting they call Hilda by the wrong name deliberately and artificially might be a tad manipulative in the wrong sense. As this is unnatural behaviour and might cause questions.

It's not Hilda's fault they remember her name correctly.

recovering jezebel

There is in fact something that covers this in the Al-Anon program literature--in that little marvel of 1940s weirdness, the "Just for Todays" as they're commonly known:

Just for today: I will exercise my soul
in three ways: it will do somebody a good turn and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count....

Sounds to me like that's exactly what you're doing. Times in my program-life when I've been most self-obsessed, my sponsor has given me a direct suggestion to do something nice for someone behind their backs, so that they never know. It's a technique to get my mind out of my situation and to gain gratitude and perspective.

So from an Al-Anon/codependency standpoint, I'd say you're doing good not just for Hilda et alia--but for yourself.

Keep it up, señor.

recovering jezebel

Sorry for the typo--that should be *I* will do somebody a good turn. We're not in Silence of the Lambs territory here ("it puts the lotion on its back....").


Mr SP, you always come up with interesting and subtle dilemmas. It's great to explore these things with you.

I agree with daisymay, what she wrote was clear and well thought-out.

I don't thing you have done anything damaging, but my guts say be careful about taking on the role of angel. Sometimes people need to learn lessons without someone pulling the strings. That lesson could be learning to make light of a situation or take the significance out of it, or learning to speak up for oneself to get what one wants or needs. (That hungry couple, for example, humbly asked for what they needed and they got it.)

I love, Mr SP, and am so touched by how deeply you care about people.

Jayne Dough

You asked, and I have an opinion, so...

Re: co-worker blogger. With the millions of online blogs, one has a reasonable expectation of anonymity in the blogosphere. You had access to that information, continued to access that information, and didn't let him know. That raises a question mark for me.

You used that information to, unbeknownst to him, help him with his issues. In Al-Anon they call that manipulation, on the drama triangle they call that Rescuing. His not knowing you knew is key here.

That doesn't make you evil; that does mean your boundaries were perhaps less than pristine.

Re: the soup. Yes, of course, technically you lied and technically you stole. That was clear & obvious: you even (albeit soft-petaled) introduced the story that way. It was a decision call. You spirit felt the higher imperative, the sudden inexplicable urge to act humane-ly instead of in your employer's best capitalistic interest.

Does that make you evil? No.

I suspect that an important component to consider is whether you, as a pattern, often lie & steal at work with the justification that you need to Rescue (hey, there's that concept again!) stray people or if it was a totally rare, out of the blue, likely to not happen again thing.

You can, if you choose, practice "rigorous honesty" and report yourself to your boss (or silently put the cost of the meal in the till): I suspect those would appeal to you.

Especially given it's not a pattern, what seems more important to me is that now, some time later, you're still worried about if you did right or not. THAT leads me to wonder if you violated some part of YOUR moral code, if you broke integrity with yourself.

Thanks for asking! I do enjoy your blog.


I am certain that your random acts of kindness are SOOOOOO powerful and amazing, like my own, that the balance of the entire universe is thrown totally off kilter; kind of like the chaotic effect of a butterfly flapping its wings in a forest that causes a four car pile up on the 405. I hope we get to live if you keep being nice like that. People eating food; self esteem being bolstered; what NEXT?! Kind actions given in a generous spirit is just crazy talk! It starts out with a gentle, obscure compliment, but one day that won't be enough. Eventually, you'll need more. You'll find yourself shouting hello to complete strangers as you pass them on the street. People will go snake-eyed and wonder “What is wrong with that man? He SMILED. Perhaps he’s recently choked on a moral conundrum.” The fractal repercussions of these actions of yours are almost unlimited; joviality, contentment, smiles galore, and….oh, I can hardly bring myself to think it…FUN?!. Eeeek gad! Give me crankiness and aloofness any day. That’s what this world needs more of; a little distance! Hold everyone an arms length away. Let them fend for themselves; if those poor schmucks don’t see any light inside themselves, f’ ‘em! That’s their problem. Just so long as we remain stoic and unperturbed, we’ll be fine. Nobody move. Don’t grow. Stay exactly where you are. Nice and static like. Shhhhh. Don’t rock the boat, by any means.

I do understand where your questions are coming from and the helpfulness of the responses so far, but I think the point has been missed.

Jeff l.

Hey Mr.SP,
Just wondering why you took my reply I posted yesterday morning off? Was it because I quoted a famous and most wise jewish carpenter who was a teacher of spiritual matters?
Email me. Lets talk.curious.

Julie. B

Pg 77 in the Big Book tells me that "our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people around us".
Service, for me, started out as making coffee at a meeting or setting up chairs. Eventually it progressed to watching for newcomers and taking on sponsee's.
These days it has taken the form of trying to be of service to ANY and ALL people who cross my path throughout my day, not just alcoholics. 'Practicing these principals in all my affairs' has finally extended to not just other alcoholics, but to my family, my co-workers and even strangers.
Just my humble opinion Mr. Sp....but anything done out of love and kindness and the desire to help another, is Gods work.
Keep trudging my friend.


Coming from an Al-Anon point of view, I am very familiar with saying just the right thing to get the desired response out of someone else. Been spending alot of energy trying to keep my mits to myself and stop working so hard to manipulate a response in others. Usually, it comes down to my motivation - why did I do it? And it requires rigorous honesty with myself to see the truth, because I would like to think that I always do these things out of the kindness of my heart. But how other people feel about themselves is not my business. And for me (which is not to say you...) I typically try to make others around me feel better about themselves, so that they will feel better about me, which (punch line) makes ME feel better about me....ultimately, I manipulated someone to get something I needed (hate it when that happens)!
Bottom line, if I really want to say something nice to someone - and I get nothing out of it for myself - then it's just being honest and spreading the love. Hence the rationale behind doing things anonymously. But if I am trying to change others anywhere in there, well..I need to get back to my side of the street.

Thanks so much for your blog....it is blessedly full of humor, and lots of good old fashioned program.


I would let Maureen and Hilda sort it out. This seems to be one of those situations that falls under the category of "It isn't my business". If Maureen is bothered a lot, then she will say to her colleagues, "I'm Maureen." My projecting what another thinks or the status of their ego is really a no win and my attempt at trying to make someone else feel good. I am not her HP. Just some thoughts from this Al-Anon's perspective.


You wrote, "I assure you, it won't make a dent in Hilda's sense of self." This stopped me for a moment even before you asked your questions. I'd just come from reading your post about judgment v. opinion, and this seemed like a judgment. Even if it happens to be correct (and who really knows what goes on inside another person?), it's still Mr. SP saying what might work/not work for Hilda/Maureen. Then making plans behind their backs to make everybody OK.

What Syd said, "If Maureen is bothered a lot, then she will say to her colleagues, 'I'm Maureen,'" also made me pause because this may or may not be true, but for a codependent like me, what I'm worried about is, "What if Maureen can't say that?—I have to help her." The best way to help IMO is to offer direct help (especially if she asks for it), not to devalue somebody else for her "benefit." Or else, to detach and let Maureen live her life and learn her own lessons. (hard for a child of an alcoholic family)

Another thought crossed my mind while reading some of the responses to your question about your actions around the soup. Several people have asked why you're still thinking about that some time later. I heard in an AA meeting from somebody I respect that "scrupulosity," or the compulsion to check our motives over and over to make sure they're "clean," can be as much ego-driven as roaring through life like a hurricane. When the motive is clean, I know it and I move on. I say this having engaged in tons of scrupulosity in my life. --G


love you and your blog since the very first day you posted. You asked...so, if I was the women in question and I found out that someone "believed" I needed boosting up..I would feel so utterly pathetic and would not be able to show my face again.

Bobby D.

Give you my opinion? Why? I had a wonderful sponsor who taught me to consult God when I had deep questions such as the ones about honesty that you've raised.

So I'll give you advice, instead (which I RARELY give!): Pray about it. Ask God to show you WHY this bothered you so much. He will give you the answer, if you sincerely seek for it.

And here's something else that has given me pause from time to time (but served me well, nevertheless):

"This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom." 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, p. 94.

I just know you'll find God's answer for you!


Overthinking it, Bro. Let it go.

Ed C.

Dear SP, Your weakness has not only strengthened you, but helped you strengthen me and others. Our weaknesses are treasures, and so they don't just vanish overnight with a seventh step or 10th step, etc. When families hid Jewish refugees from Nazi's, they sometimes lied, not just to protect themselves, but others. That did not make lying good, anymore than dying as a martyr makes a violent death good. But it appears that some sicknesses such as flu help fight incipient cancers. So we don't seek out flu, but we may use it to motivate us to live as healthily as we can. Thanks to you all for your loving wisdoms.


It's Mr Sponsorpants NOT Mr Godpants.
I dunno contriving for things to happen around you as you think they should - smacks of control and deviousness. Why not take things as they are? If the lady sez it don.t bother her...let that be... My experience is that the universe usually has a much better answer than anything I can dream up.

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