First World Problems

By Shaun Tan

By Shaun Tan

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, and Staff Writer


We often receive letters from readers seeking advice on problems. Here are some of the most insufferable.


Picture Credit: Jun-Dai Bates-Kobashigawa

Dear Rabbit,

I sit on the board of the Met and the New York City Ballet. On these same boards is another society lady. For some reason, she seems to regard me as her rival, and constantly feels the need to try to “one-up” me, even though she’s not even that wealthy, and everyone knows her husband made his money in sanitation. She found out that my birthday is coming up, and that I was planning on celebrating it by watching Don Giovanni at Carnegie Hall with my friends, and so she booked out all the private boxes on that day! I have never been so humiliated in my life! How should I respond to this?

Malory, New York


Dear Malory,

This lady is clearly your archnemesis. The great detective Sherlock Holmes famously killed his archnemesis, Professor James Moriarty, by plummeting with him down the Reichenbach Falls, which resulted in both their deaths. I recommend you confront her in her box seat and do something similar.

Dear Rabbit,

My mother owns a Patek Philippe watch. It’s a lovely piece of yellow gold, encrusted with small diamonds. The other day, though, I noticed my younger sister wearing it, and discovered that my mother had gifted it to her. I don’t begrudge my sister anything, but I can’t help but feel betrayed, since I am older after all, I have expressed my admiration of the watch to my mother on many occasions, and I bought my mother an expensive gift last Christmas. This isn’t about the material value of the watch; to me, the watch is like a symbol of love. Should I take this to mean that she loves me less?

Geraldine, Hong Kong


Dear Geraldine,


Dear Rabbit,

My son has always been an overachiever, who has always expected the best of himself. And so, it seemed natural that, upon graduating, he’d end up working at Goldman Sachs, the best bank. Although he made it through seven rounds of interviews at Goldman, he was ultimately not selected, and has ended up having to settle for a position at JPMorgan instead. Since this happened, he has sunk into depression, remarking bitterly that all his efforts have come to nothing. He has had his heart set on working on Goldman Sachs all his life. I fear that he may never recover from this disappointment.

Kwok-Wei, Singapore


Dear Kwok-Wei,

I don’t care.

Dear Rabbit,

I’m a junior executive at a big tech firm in Silicon Valley. Yesterday, in a companywide email, I accidentally referred to African Americans as “black” rather than “Black.” I fear that failing to capitalize the B, as many now do, might make my colleagues think that I don’t respect African Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth, as I have only the greatest respect for Black people and their culture. What should I do?

Dexter, San Francisco


Dear Dexter,

Seriously? No one will notice or care. Don’t you have actual work to do?

Dear Rabbit,

Yesterday, in a companywide email, one of my colleagues referred to African Americans as “black” rather than “Black.” He clearly has no respect for African American people and their culture. He and I have interacted many times in the past, and he sits near me. Now, though, I can barely stand to look at him, and even passing him in the hallway gives me panic attacks. This makes me fear for my safety at work because I wonder if, as a person of color, I might be the next target of his hate. I am considering circulating an office petition calling for his termination, but I worry that this effort might backfire. What should I do?

Joey, she/they, San Francisco


Dear Joey,

Screw it, I don’t get paid enough for this.

Seeking advice on your problems? Email us at

(Rabbit Hole is not liable for any disaster that follows as a result of listening to this advice.)

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