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Saga of a man who had to work for the ex he ghosted goes viral

Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin on NBC's 'The Office,'
NBC | Getty Images
Rainn Wilson as Dwight Schrute, Angela Kinsey as Angela Martin on NBC's 'The Office,'

The ongoing saga of a man we'll call "GG" who was assigned to work for his ex, whom he "ghosted" over a decade ago, first went viral after the man's letter appeared on Alison Green's widely read advice blog Ask A Manager in late August. He has now written in with an update — and it's a doozy.

The basics: "GG" was dating "Sylvia." GG and Sylvia moved in together. Three years later, GG decided he couldn't fully commit to the relationship. He packed up his stuff and left without any explanation. They never spoke again.

Ten years later, GG was hired as a subordinate to Sylvia. GG wrote for suggestions as to what he should do.

In her response, Green advised GG to be as upfront and mature as possible. "Contact Sylvia ahead of time to let her know you work there so that she's not blindsided by it on her first day," she said, and cop to his past bad behavior.

She also warned GG that his efforts might not be enough to keep him in his role.

"I don't know that you can salvage this!" she wrote. "It's not reasonable to ask Sylvia to manage someone who she has this history with. You can try and see what her take on it is, but I'd be prepared to have to move on, whatever that might look like for you. I get that it's going to be inconvenient — maybe even quite hard — but there may not be an alternative here."

The letter and response on Ask a Manager garnered over 1,800 comments and sparked discussions on Twitter for days. Reactions generally ranged from unsympathetic to scathing.

In an update posted on AAM, the man explained that he had reached out to both Sylvia and to the HR department to discuss the issues. In return, he got an email from the chair of the board of overseers asking him to meet.

The chair of the board voiced several concerns about gossip, GG recounted, and wanted to "put some measures in place to avoid possible problems in the future."

"I found the proposed measures rather excessive," wrote GG. "It would make my position unattainable, even in a short run. Therefore I resigned on the spot. My resignation was later accepted." He calls these results his "comeuppance."

Posted on AAM on Tuesday, the update itself quickly accumulated over 1,000 comments.

Green tells CNBC Make It she started AAM in 2007 to try to answer basic workplace questions about micro-managing bosses or asking for a raise. While she says she gets some of those, she says, she usually gets far more involved and unexpected inquiries.

For example, one man wrote in confessing he had spent more than $20,000 of personal charges on his company credit card and wanted advice on how to come clean to his bosses. Green helped him and many commenters supported him, in part because he expressed heartfelt regret and a desire to make things right. Indeed, after he came clean, his company chose not to fire him but instead put him on a payment plan.

GG seems different, Green says, because from the start she noticed a lack of remorse from him. She guesses that the outrage from commenters on the blog and on the Internet is not necessarily fueled from the situation itself, but from GG's attitude.

Even GG's use of the word "ghosting" could be problematic, Green points out: "If you're living with someone for three years and one day you come home and they're gone, that's abandonment."

What Green has learned from answering thousands of letters over the past decade is that people's personal lives and their professional lives are not as separate as one may think. In this case, the chair of the board was right to be nervous about employing two people who once were in a committed relationship and then parted on bad terms.

The larger lesson of this cautionary tale, though, is about karma. It's helpful to treat others the way you want to be treated, whether in your personal or in your professional life. You never know when someone you wronged in the past is going to be someone you need to rely on in the future.

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