Dear John: Grossed Out By Her Coworker
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
I used to be good friends with someone I work with and I guess I hurt her feelings in a short-tempered moment. In my office, we have a lot of meetings and there’s always paper being passed out – meeting agendas, printed emails, things of that nature. My friend is one of the people who often have papers to pass out, and it had begun to irritate me that she licked her fingers to do so. It was the kind of thing that built up – I mean who does that these days??? It is SO GROSS – until, after a morning when nothing was going my way, I kind of snapped at her to stop doing that. I could see she was very embarrassed, I felt really bad, and at the end of the meeting, I apologized for my behavior.
Well, now she is distant toward me, declines my invitations to get together for lunch (which we used to do occasionally), offers the bare minimum when I try to make small talk. Stuff like that. I do feel sorry for what I did, but I also feel like she’s overreacting a bit. I did enjoy her company – any thoughts on what I might do to put this in the past?
You’ve tried to put it in the past. It’s your thin-skinned friend who’s keeping it in the present.
Yes, you had a bad moment, and I’m sure you could have expressed your disgust more gently. But you offered a sincere apology, and that should have been the end of it.
I say it’s time for you to move on, with your friend or without her. Dwelling on this is her choice. It doesn’t have to be yours.
Please tell me how to talk my husband out of something he has his heart set on! We experienced a bit of a windfall recently through his own hard work and effort. Now, my wonderful husband, who has always had a boyish love for big, loud, machines, wants to buy the only vehicle that I think of as actually being immoral: a Hummer! He somehow has a lead on one he can get at a very reasonable price, he’s looked at it, and he loves it.
The thought of a Hummer sitting in our driveway is about as mortifying as anything I can imagine. My husband knows I’m not fond of them, of course, but he doesn’t really know how much I despise them. I never thought it would be a possibility! I hate to squash his enthusiasm because he works very hard and rarely treats himself to anything, especially not on this scale. I need advice!
Not Sitting In That Passenger Seat
You and your husband have to have a frank conversation before all talk between you is drowned out by the deafening roar of that mighty engine. You have to let him know how appalled you are by these, uh, very conspicuous vehicles. Tell him you know how hard he works and you fully realize how infrequently he indulges himself, but is there anything else he might treat himself to? Anything?
Here’s a question I have for you to consider: is there any room for compromise here? For example, could he buy the Hummer to experience what it’s like to drive one with the explicit agreement that he will sell it in three months, six months, whatever you can live with? That seems fair, and if he’s getting a good deal on it, he’ll probably be able to get most, if not all, of his money back.
If you can live with that, try proposing it. But if you can’t, let him know how important it is to you that he find another expensive toy. He should be willing to do that, and I hope he does.
My mom passed away a while ago. It fell to me to clean out her personal effects, and in doing so, I came upon her journals. I read some of them, imagining, I guess, they’d be full of reminiscences of her childhood or things like that, but what I found, other than a lot of mundane stuff, was how deeply she disliked my husband. We experienced some serious financial hardship several years ago when his business failed and we had a lot of stress in our marriage (which I would sometimes discuss with her). Well, her private version of those events was far more venomous than anything in our conversations. As far as I knew, my mother liked my husband, and she certainly adored her grandchildren.
John, my husband is a good-hearted guy who went through some very trying times. I love him very much. We came through those challenges and our marriage is the stronger for it. Having read what my mother thought of him, I feel differently toward her now. Not that she was a bad person, but that she was not the woman I thought I knew – at least not in some important ways. The things she wrote were so mean-spirited! I thought we had a close relationship, but now I don’t know what to think. I find this has colored my memories, which makes me sad. Normally, my husband is the person I would talk to about this, but that doesn’t seem right, does it? I don’t have any siblings, and my father passed away many years ago. How do you reconcile learning something like this when the one person who can answer your questions is not around to do so?
Sad For Two Reasons
Dear Sad For Two Reasons,
What an awful thing to read while in the midst of your grief. There’s nothing I can say that will make you think, “Oh, I never looked at it that way. That explains it.” But I can give you something to think about.
Everything you believed about your mother is no less true now than it was before you read what she wrote. She’s still the same person you knew your entire life. The closeness you enjoyed with her is no less genuine than it was. But there were parts of your mother’s life that were not accessible to you. And that can be said of every human relationship. We all have things we think, things we do, that we would never share with anyone. We all have secret interior lives that even the closest of our loved ones are not privy to. That doesn’t mean we’re hypocritical or inauthentic; it’s simply part of being human.
Your mother didn’t like your husband. Who knows why? Does it really matter, though, especially now? What’s important is that she felt this way but didn’t badger you about it, undermine him in front of his kids, or do the many other things she could have done to make sure everyone knew how she felt. Instead, she loved and respected you enough to accept your choice and share her feelings with no one but her journal. What else could she have done?
Perhaps your mother intended, as many people do, to destroy these journals prior to her death. From your description of her, I think it’s safe to say the last thing she wanted was to have you read them and add to your anguish. Of course you can’t forget what you read, but in no way does it change or undermine the relationship you had with her. The person you knew was really who she was. It just wasn’t all she was.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at email@example.com.
John is away from the advice desk this week, so he's chosen some of his favorite letters from previous columns to share.
- Dear John: An Affair To Forget
- Dear John: Another Dad Gave My Son ‘The Talk’ Before I Could
- Dear John: Bad Dad Wants Back Into Their Lives
- Dear John: Boyfriend’s Sexy Talk A Total Turnoff
- Dear John: Child’s Birth Causes Death of Sex Life
- Dear John: Daughter’s Nude Photos Not Welcome in Family Album
- Dear John: Divorce May End The Marriage But Not The Problems
- Dear John: Do I Really Want An ‘Escort’ For My 26th Birthday?
- Dear John: Getting Girlfriend’s Son Off the Couch
- Dear John: He Hates It When I Cry
- Dear John: He Thinks It’s Hot, I Think It’s Not
- Dear John: Her Grooming Calls For An Air-Clearing
- Dear John: I Think My Boss Is Having An Affair
- Dear John: Is The Problem The Nude Neighbor? Or The Nosy Ones?
- Dear John: It Feels Too Right To Be Wrong
- Dear John: My Boyfriend Is A Pathological Slob
- Dear John: My Boyfriend Overshares Our Intimate Details
- Dear John: My Husband’s Knitting Is Out Of Control
- Dear John: My Womanizing Roommate Is After a Girl I Like
- Dear John: Pro Golfer Wants To Play Her
- Dear John: Remaining A Couple Will Require A Third Person
- Dear John: She Wants Him All To Herself
- Dear John: She Wants Him To Have An Affair
- Dear John: Ungrateful Birthday Boyfriends
- Dear John: With His Father Dying, So Are His Chances To Talk