Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 24 2003 10:47 AM

Fair Trade?

9_dearprudence_01

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

The president of the company I work for has made an agreement with a personal friend of his that I feel is highly unethical. We are in the high-end digital printing industry, and his friend is in some type of flooring/home improvement business. Our president has made a trade of services with his friend in which his friend gets his costly printing job done in exchange for flooring work done on on our president's personal home. Not only is this job tying up our employees' time (time with which they could be doing customer work that would benefit our bottom line), we are using very expensive equipment and valuable supplies on work that the company will get nothing for. This one sounds like a slam-dunk no-brainer to me. The way I see it, what our company president has done is completely wrong in every way. He is unfairly influencing company revenues, which in turn are reflected in our paychecks. Employees have endured many layoffs as well as a 5 percent to 10 percent pay cut. We have done our share to keep this company afloat, and the sacrifices that have been made make me resent his behavior even more. Strangely, NOBODY else in the company seems to care that we are being used this way. Am I being picky? 

—Perplexed

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Dear Perp,

Prudie cannot account for the indifference of your colleagues, but your take on this is perfectly correct, and if memory serves, it was for just such a shenanigan that Mrs. Helmsley went away for a while, guest of the feds. If the president of your company owns the business, you have no recourse except to tell him what he doing is wrong, unfair, and illegal. If your company has outside ownership, or heaven forefend, is a publicly held company, you certainly have every right to blow the whistle. Whatever you do will take courage, but it is worth doing and may be the best way to head off ulcers. Good luck.

—Prudie, supportively

Dear Prudie,

Please provide me with some guidance on an issue that is becoming overwhelming in my relationship with my soon-to-be husband. He is a wonderful person and has many great qualities, but he has a personal habit I can no longer ignore. Whenever we are in the car together, he becomes a foul-mouthed, angry man. He never swears during ordinary conversations, but somehow he sees the car as place to air out some of the worst cursing phrases I've ever heard. He raises his voice and lets out a long slew of terms for the other drivers—not that he isn't provoked from time to time. He wasn't always like this—he certainly didn't do this when we first met, and he is able to control himself when there are other people besides me in the car with him, but it's getting to the point where I am personally offended by his words and actions. He will cut me off midsentence to yell at Joe Schmo and then try to resume conversation like nothing has happened. He will stop his own stories AND phone conversations to let that green Explorer know that he's a ______ ________. I have asked him about the source of the swearing—when it started and why. Many years ago, he lived on the West Coast, driving up to three hours a day commuting to work. He says that swearing while driving helps him cope with traffic and allows him to "unwind" from the stress of driving, but our current daily commute is only 15 minutes, and I find his behavior irrational and upsetting. Please share your advise on this $%&*#!@ issue.

—Trapped in the Car

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Dear Trap,

Your fiance's release of tension sounds like an issue falling somewhere between anger management and AAA. It is unfortunate for you that your intended is a potty mouth while driving, so here are a few ideas. Might you take over the driving duties when you're together? Or, because your daily commute is about 15 minutes, perhaps ask him to try to hold the swearing until, say, 20 minutes on the road. You also might consider going to a therapist who deals with anger management who could try to give your beloved better understanding, both of his own short fuse and your discomfort with the $%&*#!@ outbursts. It would also perhaps be useful to point out to him that, often, the offending driver does not hear him … but you do.

—Prudie, calmly

Dear Prudence,

What is the etiquette for responding to political e-mails from friends? Somehow I have managed to acquire a number of conservative friends, and I am being barraged with forwarded anti-French, pro-war, nuke-'em-all Republican treatises almost daily. (I don't know whether I'm more appalled by the text or by the fact that my friends must assume that I agree with them.) Yet when I respond to these—always polite, but firmly contradictory—I get either the cold shoulder or a wounded reply. My friends are more important to me than airing my political views, but I also feel obliged to let these folks know there's another side, and I'm on it. To these folks, is a liberal friend no friend at all? Should I just hit "delete" and leave them to their Fox News cocoon?

—Left-Out Lefty

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Dear Left,

Pity, but there is no etiquette for political e-mails. Prudie favors the coward's way out. If someone from the Fox News cocoon sends a message with which you do not agree, the response is either not to respond … or to say something noncommittal like, "That certainly leaves no room for doubt!" As for letting your friends know that there's another side (yours), it seems to Prudie that the friends you actually see already know of your political bent, so there is no pressing need to bring everyone up to speed, not unless you want to be harangued with still MORE e-mails. Prudie is proof, however, that friendship can survive wide political gaps. She is thinking, specifically, of her dear friend, the right-wing nut from Georgia (who thinks of Prudie as a lefty-pinko misguided soul). So play it as it lays, my friend … and don't forget to vote.

—Prudie, enthusiastically

Dear Prudence,

I have been in a very serious relationship for the past couple of years. My boyfriend is everything I could want in a man ... except he is very boring. I met this really interesting and exciting man online. He seems to have an explosive personality, and he scares me a lot, yet I am strangely attracted to him. Should I take my chances and hook up with him for a more exciting relationship or stick with the tried and true? Please help!

—Stuck in the Web

Dear Stuck,

Yours is a harebrained, though not uncommon, approach to romance. A girl who is considering hooking up with "an explosive personality" who scares her "a lot" is probably not inclined to listen to Prudie, who would tell you, if you were listening, to forget all about it … and him. As for the boring boyfriend, that is a side issue, and it's entirely possible that "boring" to you means that he doesn't scare you the least little bit.

—Prudie, despairingly