February 15, 2017

My Horrible Office-mate Somehow Got Worse

Hey, Bonita…

I wrote to you earlier about my problematic office-mate at my graduate assistantship (Jan. 18). I'm writing again because she's become extremely passive-aggressive towards me in regard to my schedule. (FYI, I do not go to college in Athens, which is the only reason I'd write to you, Bonita.)

Up until now, I've basically worked whatever hours she wanted me to. Now that I have to complete an internship, my time for this assistantship is extremely limited, though I am getting in the required number of weekly hours. The problem is that now she has to be more present in the office, and can't just randomly leave or take a two-hour lunch like she usually does. I experience her passive-aggressive frustration when she makes calls to other campus offices on speakerphone to complain about my absence, under the guise of getting hours covered while she needs to take care of her own personal business.

Honestly, I'm getting scared. I worry that this woman will lash out at me in an official way—with a bad employee review, or just by asking to switch me to a different work area. I also am tired of her making calls on speakerphone to complain about scheduling. What's the point, other than to communicate to me that I've inconvenienced her?

Speak to your actual boss. Never forget that this woman is just your office-mate, and she has no real authority over you. Review and confirm your schedule with the administrator you answer to, and report her horribly unprofessional behavior. Start ignoring this woman on the regular. She sounds like a serious drag, but you won't have to see her after May. Get some good earbuds.

Dear Bonita,

I am writing in regard to the letter from Paradigm Change, Not Climate Change (Jan. 25). I was very moved by this individual's heartfelt statements and descriptions of his or her position, having been there oftentimes myself. I am 70 or so and have been involved in numerous capacities, in environmental issues and human adaptation to our rapidly changing world for over 50 years. I am an anthropologist/archaeologist by profession, and I only mention this because, to some, this truth may give credence to my comments. In other words, I do not speak lightly, or without a reasonable amount of knowledge and experience.

For the last 20 years or so, I have been trying to figure out the best ways to "live off the grid." It is very difficult and expensive—given accessible-to-the-public technology—and in some cases illegal to do this. I have not found much strong social support (a lot of emotional "yes" comments, but not much activity in that direction), and I no longer have the energy, time or desire to proselytize my beliefs unless asked.

I suppose this person who wrote you the letter has read Walden, and Thoreau did not persist in his endeavors—at least, not as we know of in the literature. Today, however, there are many divergent lifestyles we can observe from people living off the grid or rejecting our often obscene mainstream ways of living. I see a true paradigm change taking place in our society and in other societies.

I want to encourage the author of this letter to you to take heart and persist in his or her efforts to live a simple, sustainable way of life, and, in good cheer, to be available to those who are interested in these worthwhile endeavors. I would say to this person: Do what you are doing for the personal satisfaction and, of course, fun of doing it; don’t preach it, but just let it evidence itself; and teach at any time teaching is sought. This sort of change usually happens not overnight, but as a ripple effect brought about by individuals and groups who simply live in the ways they believe.

I wish this person the best of all wishes in his or her endeavors, and I hope that she or he will not feel alone or alienated. There is much excellent company out there—staunch support, fast friends. You, my friend, are not at all alone. You are so needed. Thank you for being here.


Wow, Sealymay! I have nothing to add. Beautifully put. Thank you for writing!

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