Advicereality check

Reality Check

I work in a large retail store. There are people here of all different ages, backgrounds and education levels. My department is only 10 people, and because of that, everyone seems to know everyone else’s business. I am a private person, and I find the over-sharing a bit much, but mostly I just try to smile and go along. I show concern where appropriate, try to help out when necessary. One member of our department recently lost a parent, and we donated vacation time to her, for example. This is the kind of support I believe in and would offer to anyone under the circumstances, though I would not necessarily expect the same in return.

Recently, one of the girls broke up with her boyfriend. “Jenny†and “Tommy†are both in their late 20s, though they act like high schoolers. Tommy works in another department, and they behave inappropriately at work (playing kissyface on the clock in front of customers, for example), break up and get back together every other month, and generally have more drama than the local Shakespeare Company. In short, I am sick to death of them and their relationship and their behavior, and I refuse to act like I care that she feels bad or that they “broke up.†I know they will be sleeping together again by the weekend, after all.

Others in the department share my view and are sick of this cycle, while some prefer to participate in the drama, always wanting to comfort “poor Jenny†and cover for her when she isn’t getting her work done. Nobody is speaking up. This is affecting Jenny’s job performance and everyone’s morale, and I am about to snap. What can I do to let Jenny know that her problems are bullshit without making permanent enemies of both her and Tommy? I don’t want flattened tires and sworn enemies, but I am tired of picking up her slack. For various reasons, I can’t just go and get another job (I would love to!), so I have got to figure out how to solve this or I will go crazy. Please advise.

Too Old for This Shit

If at all possible, I suggest you talk directly to Jenny first. Tell her that you can appreciate the pain that she is in, but that she needs to be responsible for her job no matter what is going on in her private life, and that her emotional state is taking a toll on everyone in the department. You might also ask her what it is that attracts her to this toxic relationship at all. If you don’t feel like you can talk to her, you are going to have to talk to your boss.

Where are your managers in all of this? It seems like it would be their responsibility to see that Jenny is getting her work done, right? If they are not aware, then make them aware. Sit them down privately and explain that the situation is causing a major disruption on a regular basis and that they need to act. If that fails, you’re going to have to find a way to ignore this situation. Do your job to the best of your ability, stay above the fray, and see if you can transfer to another department. Good luck.

My wife’s sister is dying. She knows it, and she seems as prepared for it as I suppose anyone can be. She is taking care of all of her own arrangements now, and in a couple of months when she is gone, we are all supposed to go along with her wishes. She is not a religious woman. In fact, she is a staunch atheist who was raised in an oppressively religious household. Her parents are still alive and well, and will presumably still be in a couple of months when their daughter is gone.

Theirs is a surprisingly good relationship, all things considered. My sister-in-law respects her parents and goes through certain motions with them on Christian holidays so as not to rock the proverbial boat. She sees them regularly and does not get into political or religious tussles with them because she thinks of it as a waste of time. My wife is a non-denominational Christian who has also distanced herself from her parents’ religious and political affiliations, and also chooses to go through the motions to keep her parents happy. I am fine with all of this. I am not a particularly religious guy myself, but I don’t feel the need to impose my beliefs (or lack thereof) on anybody, and I usually just leave the room when my in-laws start getting too preachy. We have all maintained a good relationship this way for many years, and I see no reason to change.

Now, however, they have started making their own arrangements for my sister-in-law’s “service.†And I am horrified and a bit pissed off, to be honest, that they would deny their daughter her dying wishes. She wants what she wants, for herself and her friends, and they are planning to do things the way they have always done, with all of the bells and whistles that they have for anybody of their faith. But, as I have pointed out to my wife, SHE IS NOT OF THEIR FAITH. She doesn’t want this, and she doesn’t know what they are planning. My wife says we shouldn’t worry about it, that my sister won’t know anyway. I want to have the service that she wants, because I think we should honor her memory the way she wants us to. I am having a really hard time keeping my mouth shut here, and I need your advice.

Biting My Tongue

Maybe you could suggest doing both? Then you could honor the sister’s memory while giving comfort to all of the people who will feel her loss. You might suggest that to your wife and see if she can get her parents to go along. If they balk, then you should drop it. If you feel very strongly about it, then you can get together with some of your sister-in-law’s friends and convey her wishes and they can have the service she wants, and her parents can have the one they want. The service is not for the deceased, after all, but for the living. I don’t see how you can (or why you would) deny whatever comfort these people need at a time when they are burying their own child.