Once upon a time — back when he still worked for a living, if you can remember those days — your faithful narrator had gotten himself into a tight spot. To make a long and melodramatic story short and alliterative:

There was a tendentious to-do with middling management, whose perception of his paucity of productivity and project progress he found perpetually appalling. His stubbornly strenuous insistence on his innocence, in a sense, signed and sealed his sentence of sequestration. In an ultimatum they made him, they bade him finish five faintly unfortuitous tasks ere half a fortnight pass, or else find himself full out on his steadfast ass. Stuck sans strategy, he sought the status of his supervisor's support; dastardly dude didn't deign to delineate love or hate, with deceit dessicated, inchoate. Your narrator, a hair later, was bait.

I tell the tale because it is a grater (okay, no more, I promise!) that this loose approximation of a gentleman — who, in a position to vouch for the quality and intensity of my work, would commit to no opinion whatsoever — desires a connection to me on a professional-networking web site. I ignored the request the first time. Now he's sent a second one. I'm having a hard time figuring out the right response. It may seem petty not to simply accept, but I believe the ramifications of the decision are actually quite serious, both for me and for him.

Let's start with the immediately selfish ones. The purpose of the web site is to connect would-be employers with would-be employees. If I'm associated with this guy on this web site, it increases the number of potential connections I can make. I don't particularly need more connections. I certainly don't need connections through someone I don't respect, nor to have my reputation potentially associated with his.

This is where it gets complicated. Isn't rejecting his request, by definition, holding a grudge? Isn't holding a grudge unbecoming, no matter the reasons? That's a loaded question, because the phrase “holding a grudge” connotes our disapproval, but it still works as a thought-provoker. It's not my responsibility to mete out my measurement of the justice of his actions; if he's consistently neither honest nor forthright, he probably suffers enough. By the same token, it's not my responsibility to pretend his cowardice didn't bother me; it did, and it does.

I don't want to ignore his request again, as that'd be neither honest nor forthright of me. Nor, for the same reasons, do I want to accept. This means I must decline. The site requires that, when declining, one must provide the reason. I will tell him the truth. I don't care for what he did. It's not in my interest to look past it. Even so, I wish him well.