Dear Urban Diplomat: Am I a terrible person if I don’t chip in for a colleague’s baby gift?

I’m an elementary school teacher, and my co-workers are a pretty generous crew: every time a colleague has a baby, we put out a collection basket and chip in to buy the new arrival a gift. Lately, though, it’s getting a little out of hand. One of my colleagues asked us to contribute to a baby gift for a woman who doesn’t even work here anymore, which I think is ridiculous. How do I opt out without looking like a cheapskate?

—Gift Miffed, Lawrence Heights

Gifts should come from a place of kindness, not obligation—or at least that’s the kind of thing a teacher might say. If you don’t want to hop on the bandwagon, then don’t. Since they’re merely putting out a hat, no one will know how much (or how little) you contribute. But keep your indignation to yourself—speaking up would not only expose your stinginess but also spoil the fun for your co-workers, many of whom were probably closer with your former colleague than you were.

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