DEAR AMY: Two friends from college and I have decided to take a girls' trip with just the three of us, away from our kids. We haven't seen each other in years and are going to spend a weekend in another city relaxing and catching up. My friend's husband offered to reserve the hotel room for us on the points he has accumulated traveling for work. What a generous offer! Now that the room is booked, this same friend has told us to buy her meals and a spa treatment in return for the points that are being used for this room. Her husband offered, but now there is a bill coming! I would rather have just paid my share for the room! Do I have to buy my friend these meals and spa treatments?
Wondering What I Owe
DEAR WONDERING: If this demand was delivered to you in the way you describe, your friend is kicking off your girls' weekend like a sorority girl engaged in her own little hazing campaign. I agree with you that her demand is hard to take.
Yes, you and your other friend should treat her to a meal and/or spa treatment in gratitude for the generosity, but ideally this payback would have been your gracious gesture — not responding to her demand.
If her husband received these points while on business travel, he didn't pay for the hotel room in the first place — his company did. Your friend would actually be profiting off of her husband's company, which is unethical. In essence she would be selling or bartering his points, which (according to my research) is also against IRS rules.
You could take a look at the total retail cost of the room for the weekend, offer your friend either cash for one-third of the cost, or pick up the cost for one or more meals and/or spa, whichever amount is less. And yes, I think you should also tell her that if you had known what a hard bargain she would drive, you would rather have just split the cost of the room and gotten the reward points yourself.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I are moving across the country to start a new life in the Canadian Rockies. We are ditching our corporate lives for something more active, social and fun. I like my given name, but it's common and I always hoped I'd earn a nickname along my life's travels, but alas I never did. So now, with this move, I'm considering creating a nickname for myself. I'd like it to be something fun and based on my initials. My husband told me that it would be an affectation, so I looked up the word "affectation" and read; "behavior, speech, or writing that is artificial and designed to impress." So, he thinks I'm being fake and looking to impress people. Maybe I am? What do you think?
Bored with Michelle
DEAR BORED: I agree that your name change would be an affectation. But who cares? This is the kind of affectation most people can get behind, because it has to do with you, your identity, and your personal freedom and right to identify as you wish.
I think that you should go for it. Own this new start, and embrace it with a bit of an identity makeover.
You may find this name-change presents a challenge, especially if your husband decides to undermine you along the way. I suggest you be open when meeting new people: "Well, my whole life I've been Michelle, but I'm thinking of asking people to call me 'Mad Dog' (or 'Mikey' or 'Merry,' or whatever name you choose). Want to help me make my new name stick?" This might be a good ice-breaker in your new home.
DEAR AMY: I was very concerned by your flippant answer to "Living in the Future," whose husband was using their "smart home" technology to monitor her movements at home throughout the day. Amy, this is stalking. This is control. I found this man's behavior quite alarming and felt you didn't take the risks of this seriously enough.
DEAR UPSET: I agree with you. This husband's monitoring and level of control over his wife (while he was at work) is alarming.
Instead of urging her to find a place outside the home to do her own work, I should have told her to UNPLUG the minute her husband leaves the house.
She should also dispassionately evaluate this relationship.