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Wednesday conversation: Timing, Part I

Posted by Robin Abrahams  August 25, 2010 06:44 AM

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The great Jewish sage Hillel once asked, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?"

We spend a lot of time here talking and thinking about the balance of the first two questions. What about the last one? When was a time that you did, or said, something at exactly the right moment?

One can never know the truth about another person's marriage, but I used to work with a woman whose husband also worked in the same organization. She and I got to be friends, and from the way she talked about her husband, and from their behavior when I could see them together -- playing footsie at the occasional meeting, for example -- they seemed to really have a good thing going. So shortly after I married Mr. Improbable, I told my friend that I hoped he and I would have the kind of marriage she and her husband did, when we'd been together that long. It meant a lot to her.

Two weeks later, her husband had a heart attack and died.

I'm so glad I said what I did when I did.

Your story may not be quite that dramatic, but when have you done or said something at the right moment?

(Yes, we'll have another thread to discuss incidents of bad timing later! Let's start with the good stories, though.)
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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