04 December 2009
(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved)
Oh my, these are some terrible letters this week - this could end up being very short.... However, the originals can be found as always at Dear Prudence .
1. You're doing well, your friends not so much. So far this seems not to have been much of a problem, and at your age a lot of this is time-related. Some of those friends will eventually do well, perhaps even better than you are. Some won't. You know it, they know it and all will be well. But that's not the issue, is it? Money is coming into a couple of these friendships because your boyfriend...well, he screwed up. Tell him to
about the whole thing. The damage from his unthinking offer to turn friends into employees can be mitigated, but only he can do it and he has to do it NOW. It was actually pretty thoughtful for him to try and replace a bad cleaning lady for you. It's just that his alternative wasn't the wisest. Prudie was right. The only way out of this is for your BF to tell your friends that he made a mistake, that you hired someone else to clean house when he wasn't looking. Yes, it will be a lie and you'll have to clean yourself until you find someone, but it will be a kind and sensible lie, won't it?
As some wise person on Slate pointed out, if your friends do a lousy job, how are you going to fire them without hard feelings? The answer to that is you can't. Also consider that these people are your friends and point out to your boyfriend that cleaning people know EVERYTHING about your house. Do you REALLY want people you socialize with to know that your bedroom floor is covered with underwear or the hi-jinks that go on elsewhere in the house? There's no point in hiring anyone if you're just going to run around tidying up before they come over. Yes, they probably could use the money. But you are perfectly within your rights to say that you'd rather have friends stay friends instead of well, employees.
You've been taking a kicking on Slate because some people who don't earn the kind of money you and your boyfriend do can't resist trying to "take you down a peg". It's pure envy and spite from people who don't have the energy and drive to do what you do. You have my permission to ignore that crap. The two of you worked hard through school and got the jobs that everyone wanted. People who have no drive or ambition love to whine about how "snobbish" it is to hire a cleaner. If you talk about your life, they'll accuse you of bragging. If you go on a vacation, they'll call you a snob. They seem to think that you've been sitting on your ass for your whole life. You know that truth. No one is handing you money to do nothing. You earned it, it's yours, and you have nothing to apologize for.
As for finding a new cleaner... I don't have a lot of advice for you, but I think your best bet is to ask around and try to get names from people who love their cleaners and see if that person can get you in the schedule. Once you find someone who's really good, you'll half kill yourself to keep them happy.
2. How many lunch thieves are there, anyway? Millions, I bet. Zillions, too. How do I know this? I'll tell you. It's because every person who has ever worked in any kind of office (even me) will happily regale you with tales of some sticky-fingered individual who carries out sneaky commando raids on the office fridge. I'm sure that many people are dancing with glee at the very thought that someone in your office actually caught a culprit! I seems a rare and beauteous thing, doesn't it? But is it, really?
for a moment and consider. Offices are closed spaces and the tiniest things (stapler anyone?) can come to seem like monumental disasters. Tiny slights are magnified into huge offenses. Something as simple as a snort or giggle can lead to murderous thoughts. In some peoples' minds, the way a pencil is sharpened, the tuneless hum of someone at the copier, or the loudness of a keyboard stroke can become firing offenses.
So stop and consider..... Yes, the lunch thing is irritating. When this started happening where I worked, I invested in an insulated lunch box with it's own cold pack which I stashed under my desk. Easy. I wish more people would do that, life would be simpler. It's a solution.
But your lunch thief has been busted. Not only is she your friend, but she's also a financial guru for your firm. Dangerous ground. Very dangerous. How close a friend is this woman? Can you tell her she's been busted? If you think you can, talk to her about it AWAY from the office. Mention that someone saw her going through the fridge, ask if she was looking for something and mention that some people think she's a lunch-jacker. Then LEAVE IT ALONE.
A lot of people are yapping about going to HR, some think she should be fired on the spot because I guess touching a baloney sandwich is not only a hanging offense, but guarantees that she's raiding company coffers and stashing millions in her Swiss bank account and probably has her own personal pirate ship that robs unwitting Carnival Cruise people of their booze tickets.... but none of that matters. If you aren't close enough to her to talk about it outside of work, then stay out of it. SAY NOTHING AT WORK. It's none of your business.
3. "I am not a germophobe." Give me a break here, lady! Do you really think that H1N1, the plague, the seasonal flu and the common cold are going to just vanish off the face of the planet because YOU can force others to wash their hands when they leave the loo?
And that's what you should do. Not because, as many people explained to you in detail, there are germs everywhere. Not because there's any real hope of eradicating all communicable diseases if people obey you. No, you need to keep your mouth shut because you sound like a nut case! Who are you kidding when you claim you aren't a germophobe? Seriously.
I can see you now, a silent, lurking presence in the washroom, just waiting for someone to hit the door instead of the sink after they leave a stall. What were you planning on doing? Leaping out of the stall with a clang in your pink tights and bubble cape and beat them over the head with a large bar of Ivory? Pushing the button on an air horn and following them around yelling "Dirty, poopy hands! Don't let this person touch anything!" as if anyone but you cares?
You're going to have to find something else to obsess about before someone either drowns you in a bathroom sink or has you hauled off to the booby hatch. I hear there's a lunch-jacker in your office. Best get a few surveillance cameras and a Taser to take care of that one.
4. Schizophrenic brother, check. Hitchhiker that vanished with the sun, check. Long-held suspicion that your brother is a murderer, check. Boring life as toilet supervisor/lunch room surveillance officer, check. No drama in your life, check. ....
No really. I have no advice here. Just ...just.... SHADDAP! already. Either you're a phony or a nut, but either way no one is interested in hearing this crap.
Ok ok ok. I'll give you some advice. I recommend that you buy your old family home and quit your job so you can dismantle it piece by piece looking for blood or body parts or some kind of evidence that the hitchhiker was killed in the house. By the time you're done, I expect to see nothing more than a pile of sticks and another pile of gravel because you'll also have to take apart the foundation and dig under it, too.
I recommend also renting a backhoe and digging up the yard looking for bodies, too. You never know who else your brother killed, right? While you still have the backhoe and under cover of night, you need to go to that park that your brother "dropped" the guy off at and dig that up, too. If you manage to do THAT and not get caught, then you're going to have to dig up every ditch and yard along the way to the park and inspect all of that dirt, too!
Eventually you'll be caught of course - the police are death on people who tear up parkland and destroy entire roadways. No one would convict you of an actual crime, you understand, because you'll be so overwrought by then. You won't get away with it, though. So when you're alone in said booby hatch and your now-healthy brother comes to visit you and asks if you killed that hitchhiker so many years ago... you can babble and drool into your straightjacket and hope to get into a halfway house some day.