DEAR AMY: Now retired, I was always the one at work that instigated get-togethers with colleagues. We worked for a government organization and therefore there were never dinners or social occasions sponsored by the employer because we were using taxpayers’ money. I instigated birthday parties, often out of my pocket, or we’d have an end-of-the-year blowout and I’d organize people to chip in money to buy steaks for the grill and everyone would bring a dish to pass. Now after retirement, it seems it’s up to me to call everyone and find an agreeable date for whatever the event, mostly just to reconnect and for fun. I’m burnt out and offended that it’s left up to me. No one calls me just to visit, and I’ve just had it. If we were such great friends, I feel it should be up to everyone to make these events happen. I’m wondering what your thoughts are.
Burned Out in Michigan
DEAR BURNED OUT: I think it’s possible that these people aren’t really your great friends, but instead are amenable former colleagues who will lazily accept an invitation or agree to a plan if you do all the work. I give great credit to the social fixers like yourself who remember birthdays, organize special occasions, and show up at the office with baked goods and a smile. Work life would be a colorless experience of gray-scaled drudgery without you.
However, many people look forward to retirement partly for the joy of finally being independent from the social niceties that crop up at work and which sometimes seem more like a forced connection than a real friendship.
I’m not saying that these people don’t like you — you should assume that they do. But it might be time for you to move on and form friendships among people who share more with you than working on — or complaining about — the Peterson account. Look for people who occasionally initiate and reciprocate.
Because you deserve a break. You’ve definitely earned it.
DEAR AMY: We have a female friend that flosses immediately after eating at a restaurant, which we find disgusting. She does this at the table while everyone is talking! What do you think of this practice?
DEAR DISGUSTED: Count me as “disgusted,” too.
Not only is it unhygienic, flossing falls into the category of “personal care,” which simply shouldn’t be performed in a public venue.
One of you could ask her to step into the bathroom and say, “I understand that you want to floss your teeth, but would you mind not doing it at the table?”
If you end your feedback with a question, she will be forced to answer. If she says she’d rather do it at the table, I’d let her also pick up the check.
DEAR AMY: “Wayward Daughter” was worried about the impact her alcoholic brother was having on their elderly parents. I lived through an extremely similar situation with my brother. He constantly asked my parents for money. He has a family of his own, and was still relying on my parents, and likely his wife’s to some extent, to get them through the rough spots. He even asked me to take money out of my 401k for him! I resented him so badly, because he was taking advantage of my parents. I got so fed up that I wrote him a very long letter about how all that made me feel (similar to your recommendation). That was a turning point for our relationship. After he finally got sober, we have grown closer. Unfortunately, I’ve had to learn that only he can control what he does, and only I can control my reaction to it. I’m still not very good at it, but it’s a process.
DEAR GRATEFUL: Good for you!
DEAR AMY: I’ve enjoyed the letters from readers regarding how they divide their household chores. When my wife and I had our child, I generously offered to take over all laundry duties, since she was the one that had to get up at all hours of the night to feed and deal with our baby. This system worked out very well. I still do the laundry and the “baby” is now 39 years old. You can recognize me if you see me: I’m the guy with “sucker” written across his forehead. Not really complaining,
Happy Husband, Vedra Beach, Florida
DEAR HAPPY HUSBAND: I assume that your wife appreciates how this particular deal worked out.