I dearly hope I’m never on a bridge designed by a structural engineer who barely passed her exams. You know your father wants what’s best for you, and given the drumbeat about the great prospects for students, especially young women, in the so-called STEM fields, he’s trying to guarantee you have a lifetime of well-remunerated employment. But the root of your problem is that you’ve given engineering a fair shot and you hate it. At college your job is not only to do well in your studies, but to explore new opportunities and become an independent person. You need to talk to your academic adviser and others on campus about a more suitable major, a new program of study, and the kinds of careers that would be open to you. Then tell your father you understand his concerns, but a brilliant engineering career is unlikely for someone so ill-suited to it. Since you will have done your homework, you will be able to tell him about the opportunities for someone with a degree in economics or history. Your confidence will convey that you are strong enough to stand up to a loving if overbearing father, and help him see you are not his “accomplishment” but a self-sufficient person. If he acts punitively about your decision, don’t be afraid to call him out on his mantra. Tell him you know he loves you, and now you need him to support you as he always has promised he would.
Sometimes at work, while sitting in the bathroom stall, I hear a weird rubbing noise coming from a neighboring stall. Other co-workers have heard it, too, and after months of sleuthing we discovered that the noises were coming from an older gentleman in the office. Lately the sounds have been getting more graphic, a distinct wet noise. He's either masturbating or repeatedly wiping his behind—the point is, it's really weirding us out. Should we ask him about it, or talk to human resources?
—Wishing To Use the Bathroom in Peace
So an old co-worker goes into the bathroom, shuts the stall door, and does something that results in moisture and wiping. Just think about how the conversations will potentially go with your colleague or HR when you present this startling finding. Unless you believe children are being violated, you don’t want to make it your business to get up into other people’s business once they turn the knob on the stall and drop trou. If the noises are troubling, that should inspire you to forget the crossword puzzle, finish your duties, and hot foot it back to your desk. You may want to use the bathroom in peace, but so does the old gentleman, whose aged plumbing is perhaps leakier than your own.
More Dear Prudence Columns
“A View to a Thrill: Neighbor boys peep at my scantily clad daughters. Should I have them cover up?” Posted June 30, 2011.
“Loving Thy Neighbor: I have sex with the couple next door. Should I tell my kids about it?” Posted June 23, 2011.
“Fatherly Advice: Dear Prudence advises a dad whose wife fears he'll abandon the family in favor of his long-lost daughter—and other Father's Day advice seekers.” Posted June 16, 2011.
“Businessman on the Road to Ruin: My wife doesn't know I visit strip bars and porn theaters while away on business. But that's not cheating, right?” Posted June 9, 2011.
More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts
“All Dogs Go to Heaven: Dear Prudence advises a dying husband on whether to confess his infidelity—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 27, 2011.
“Sloppy Stay-at-Home Mom: Prudie advises a man whose wife is great at everything except keeping the house neat—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 13, 2011.
“The 40-Year-Old Mean Girl: Prudie advises a former bully whose kids are being mistreated by her victim's children—in a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.” Posted June 6, 2011.
“The Accused: A young neighbor's unfounded claims put my family in danger. Should we allow the girl back into our lives?” Posted June 2, 2011.
TODAY IN SLATE
Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola
Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is
Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.
I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights
Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.
It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice
In Defense of HR
Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.