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February 7, 2018

My Job Is Killing Me (Literally)

Hey, Bonita…

Hey Bonita,

I work in a very specific setting that I don't want to name, but within that setting is the risk of danger to staff. I'm new to this type of work, but I did take the job understanding that I could be physically hurt at work. I've recently been put in a situation that directly threatens my safety (via another person—it's a hospital, I'll say that much), and I'm not dealing with it well at all! I'm actually writing this letter at my desk, on the verge of tears. I want to do well at my job, but I don't want to be physically attacked. The thought of getting hurt at work is turning out to be too much for me. What do I do?

Talk to your supervisor, or more specifically, someone who has been working in your environment for a long time. I imagine you work in some type of psychiatric or mental health setting, and I believe you when you say you’re at risk and it’s terrifying for you. It takes a special type of person to provide medical care while under threat of attack, but I’m sure these providers don’t show up on their first day ready to tackle an unruly patient. You gotta work up some nerve, I’d suppose.

And you said that you’re new to this kind of job, so go talk to some workplace veterans about their early days and how they got where they are now in managing the stress of their work environment. Is there support staff available to accompany you into stressful environments? Try to have someone present with you when you can, someone who’s practiced at the scarier aspects of your job and will step in if you freeze up.  

I also want to tell you to take it easy on yourself and give yourself room to grow into your new job. You’re new, and no one is expecting you to be Patch Adams just yet. Do your best, but don’t expect miracles out of yourself. Your fears and concerns are justified, and you will manage your way through them, just like your coworkers have.


My husband is great. He likes to carry his weight in our home and routinely cooks and cleans without being asked. Here's the problem: He's terrible at it! Half-swept floors, dishes covered in fingerprints and dried food, and no attention paid to detail. Also, I don't really like his cooking! He uses ingredients that I don't care for, and he overcooks vegetables to mush. But he does all this without asking, so I'm an asshole, right?

You’re not an asshole, you just know what you like. You have your own standard of cleanliness and you like your veggies crispy. You’re allowed! But your boo doesn’t share your standards, even though he is performing his husbandly duties in X-Game mode. That’s a tough nut to crack: If you speak up and correct him, does that mean you don’t appreciate his contributions? If you don’t say anything, are you prepared to eat mushy vegetables and drink out of dirty glasses until eternity?

I had a roommate who seriously never washed our dishes with soap (left food and grease on everything all the time), but he moved out, and I don’t have to think about him anymore. This, however, is your husband. I assume y’all wanna be together forever, so you’re gonna have to nip this in the bud.

I say that you just start cooking and cleaning with him. Not all the time—you wouldn't want him to get too comfortable—but sharing these chores occasionally would give you the opportunity to provide direction and help y’all to create shared norms for your household. Cook dinner with him, and explain to him why mushy vegetables are less nutritious than firmly cooked ones.  Wash dishes together, but let him do the actual washing, and be vocal when a dirty dish makes it into the drying rack.  

Seriously, y’all, how are so many of us making it into adulthood without knowing how to wash a dish?  

Need advice? Email advice@flagpole.com, use our anonymous form, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.

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