DEAR AMY: I have been working at my company for six years. I have shown selfless dedication to my job and can count on one hand the number of days I've called in sick. Last year, due to changes in our business, I switched positions and started working in a different department. My new colleague is challenging. She suddenly becomes "sick" toward the end of every workweek and is constantly complaining of some new (presumably imagined) malady. This either requires her to take time off or leave work early. I (and others here) are almost 99 percent certain that this is all made up or a product of mental illness. Her absences are through the roof. As someone with a very strong work ethic, I have always prided myself on my attendance, and I am becoming very resentful, particularly since this has been going on for ages and there has been no disciplinary action taken. I have compassion for people who are (genuinely) sick, but how do I deal with these feelings against her?
DEAR FED-UP: Does this co-worker's behavior and frequent absences have a direct impact on your own productivity and job performance? Does it disrupt the important work flow in your unit? If so, you should go to your supervisor or HR department and discuss it.
Otherwise, it is useless (and actually counterproductive) to speculate, criticize and gossip about this person behind her back. Doing so just provides a negative distraction.
Think of it this way: Every single day, she has to be her -- with illnesses (real or imagined), and with an attitude toward work that would never satisfy you.
On the other hand, you get to go through the day being you. If you let your resentment get the upper hand, then you are handing over your own esteem to someone who doesn't deserve it.
DEAR AMY: Could you comment on proper etiquette for people going to wakes or funerals? All too often, I see people coming in wearing jeans, flip-flops, T-shirts and other clothing that is fit more for the beach or a picnic than for a funeral. I was raised to show my respect for the deceased and family by wearing business-like clothing. I have also observed teenagers treating the visits like they were social gatherings: laughing, being loud and showing no respect for the family. Perhaps their parents behave the same way at wakes. I don't know. Have times changed? I just find it disturbing to find this kind of behavior at a place where respect should be of utmost importance. Could you please present your opinion on this?
DEAR DISGUSTED: There is a basic dress code (and comportment) for memorials and funerals.
However, speaking as someone who has experienced a lot of loss and attended way too many wakes and funerals, I can tell you from my own experience that looking out at a congregation of people gathered to remember a loved one, I can see beyond the shorts and flip-flops and be extremely grateful for every single person who has chosen to attend an important ceremony to celebrate an important life.
There are times when laughter provides a wonderful salve and a reminder that life goes on. However, if people behave in a way that is disrespectful, a close friend or family member of the grieving family should approach the group, introduce himself, and gently ask them to lower their voices.
DEAR AMY: Responding to "Bowled Over by PC-ness," the writer is too quick to assume that a mental disability also means a physical disability. I worked for three years in an assisted living facility, and many of our clients were superb athletes. I often filled in on the bowling team and was never the top scorer. In fact, I was rarely in the top half. I do not agree with the bowling alley's policy of requiring leagues to accept teams from assisted living facilities, but I urge your writer to give it a chance. He may find that the enthusiasm of these new bowlers adds to his pleasure of the game.
Dan in Va.
DEAR DAN: Definitely. Thank you.