Q. I Lied, and Strangers Probably Lost Their Jobs: About 15 years ago, when I was a young teenager, I told a lie that seemed harmless at the time but as an adult, I now realize that my lie could have cost total strangers their jobs. I was visiting the mall with my father and we stopped at a pretzel chain—the workers were Hispanic, and I was taking Spanish classes at the time. They were speaking to each other in Spanish (I truthfully had no idea what they were saying), and I told my father they were making lewd remarks about me in Spanish. I have no idea why I did it, but he called the company and complained about their behavior. I don't know what happened, but I realize there's a chance two totally innocent mall workers could have lost their jobs. I am appalled by my behavior, but I can't come up with any way to make restitution since it happened so long ago and I have no clue who the pretzel shop workers were. Do you have any suggestions for me?
A: At least you recognize how deplorable your behavior was and you have remorse for the terrible thing you did. And you're right, there is no way to find out what happened to those innocent people. So whatever damage you did has been done and can't be undone. What you can do is try to make some kind of larger, societal restitution in the form of community service. So find an organization that helps immigrants and make a significant donation or do volunteer work, or both. All that's left for you at this point is try to balance your awful act with something good.
Q. Dating a Co-Worker: What are your thoughts on this often debated topic? I work at a company that is fairly small, around 40 employees, the potential suitor is at the same level as I am and the company does not have a policy against it. There has been a lot of heavy flirting going on, and the attraction is there. We are both single. I am not wedded to my job, meaning if I had to leave I would. I dated co-workers in my early 20s and it always ended in someone being really hurt. So I am concerned; I am now mid-30s and hope I have matured. I have not been even attracted to a man for three years now, and had totally given up on dating, until I met this co-worker who seems to have revived something in me that I thought had died. I am starting to get to the point where I think love, family, and friends are a lot more important than any job, and I am really considering going for it. What do you think? How should I approach the subject with him?
A: What you don't do is say that should your love blossom, revive your dead heart, and lead to marriage, you would be willing to leave the company to avoid awkwardness at work. You say something more along the lines of, "Hey, why don't we go out for coffee sometime." Then you see how he responds. I understand companies not wanting subordinate-boss relationships, but what you have in mind breaks no rules and sounds promising. I hope it works out.
Q. Re: Last Single One: It doesn't sound like pique to me. It sounds like these friends have forgotten what she has done for them and she feels a bit sad and disappointed. And I think she has a right. Just because you're married and have children doesn't mean you get to ignore your friend's milestones because you've been there, done that. They don't sound much like friends to me. She never said anything to sound like a Bridezilla, never mentioned fonts anywhere. Just seemed justified in being hurt by her friends.
A: She has to take a hard look at this. She mentions her friends' life dramas. Are they really busy furnishing their second homes, or are they dealing with a child with autism and unemployment? Maybe she needs to take her bridal party out for lunch and say she knows they're all at a different point in their lives, but she would love their advice and counsel as she enters this exciting phase. Having a sense of lightness and perspective is more likely to get her what she wants.
Q. Hurt: My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six months. Recently we have been taking the step of introducing each other to friends and possibly family. I've started including him in events with my friends and things have been going great, until this weekend. He called and told me that his brother and a friend from Texas (where he is from) would be in town so he would be busy with them all weekend and would see me later. There wasn't anything I could really say at the time other than OK, but it really hurt to be excluded. For what it’s worth, I have talked to his brother a few times, but since he lives in upstate N.Y., never face to face. Before I bring it up, am I overreacting?
A: After almost six months in an exclusive relationship, I think it's reasonable to have some kind of get-together when your boyfriend's brother comes to town. So call him back and say you don't want to intrude on their visit, but you'd love to host the group or brunch. Or suggest maybe all of you could meet for coffee because after talking to his brother on the phone, you'd enjoy meeting him in person. Then see how your boyfriend reacts and how it makes you feel.
Q. Re: Food for Son: Your son also needs to have a small bag with him at all times containing granola bars (or some nonperishable snack he likes) and a folding water bottle. I was told by my doctor that I need to eat every two-to-three hours, and having something in a pinch is invaluable.
A: Great point. Your son needs to be more in control of his triggers, and if an empty stomach and dehydration are among them, he needs to be prepared to keep himself from getting thirsty and hungry.
Q. Re: Last Single One Out: That was a put-down of an answer. She said she was finding herself "alone"—I would ask what that means, exactly. No showers, no bachelorette party at all? Or no one's interested (or has the time to discuss) the "font on the monogram on your cocktail napkins"? There's a difference. You seem to be implying how dare she expect her friends to be interested in her wedding festivities? They've moved on to Real Life!
A: There's obviously more to this story than a conspiracy by her presumably dear friends to pay no attention whatsoever to her happy event. Has she not been close to these people in years? Is she sitting there expecting everyone to surprise her with the exciting plans they've put together? Maybe all her friends are a bunch of louses and she should cut her losses and not invite them to the wedding. Maybe there's some middle path that will make her not feel so alone.
Q. Baby-Crazy SIL: I have a sister-in-law who has struggled with infertility. Her eggs are viable, she just doesn't seem able to carry a pregnancy. I agreed to be a surrogate for her, and so went in with her to the doctor to discuss things. I was getting a weird vibe from some of the staff, also the doctor, which I finally understood when one of the staff told me that usually surrogates don't come into the picture until a woman has had three failed IVF procedures, unless something else proved IVF would not work. And in fact, my SIL was still planning to do a third IVF—at the same time I would be implanted! I was shocked, and felt used. Granted, it seems very possible that it won't work for her, but if it did, we would both be pregnant and she may not be able to help me out with my two young children while I was carrying this child for her, as she had promised she would. When I expressed my concern, she just laughed me off and said I was being a worry wart, and that she would love to end up with "twins." At this point, I seriously don't think this surrogacy is a good idea, but now I'm afraid I'll start World War III when I back out. Any tips as to how I may soften the blow?
A: You don't want to be a surrogate, end of story. If she wants a surrogate, she needs to start looking for one outside her family. Your sister-in-law can throw all sorts of fits, but she cannot make you carry a child for her if you don't want to. You've just said you don't want to. You're a mother, so you must know how to say, "No," even if the person hearing it throws a tantrum.
Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next week.
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