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Why do people burn bridges?

Spoiler: I have no idea

Megan Preston Meyer
Megan Preston Meyer

A friend of mine, Xavier, recently started a new job. He took over for his predecessor rather, um, abruptly and inherited a hiring process for a candidate named Conrad. Conrad had already been interviewed by Xavier’s predecessor, but Xavier had never met him, so he scheduled a follow-up.

A few minutes into it, Conrad said, “Why are you asking me all these questions? I was told that the decision had been made and we just needed to negotiate the contract.” This, despite the fact that the (external) recruiter had supposedly explained the change in leadership.

There were other red flags, too – the guy was arrogant – and Xavier determined that it wasn’t a great fit. He told the recruiter to let Conrad know that they wouldn’t be pursuing his candidacy any further.

Two hours later, Xavier received an $800 invoice for ‘wasting Conrad’s time.’


Who does that? What was going through Conrad’s mind when he pulled up Quickbooks and dashed off a bill? Why do people burn bridges?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’m usually pretty good at intentionally stancing things, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why someone would react so actively assholeish.

I get that he was disappointed, but what did Conrad get out of it? A tiny little ego-salve? A story that he could tell his friends to show that he stands up for himself and don’t take no disrespect from nobody? I’ll tell you what he didn’t get out of it…$800.

The upside just wasn’t there.

The downside was, though. Job markets are small. Xavier warned the recruiters he works with about Conrad, and they don’t want to stake their reputations on someone like that. Xavier has also mentioned this little invoice incident to a couple of peers in the industry, so those doors have slammed shut on Conrad, too. It won’t stop him from getting another job, but it may slow him down a little.

Was it worth it? Probably not. I don’t know what the going rate for bridges is these days, but Conrad will need to send a lot more invoices to pay for the ones he’s burned.

Why Do People...?