Got a burning question for Prudie? She'll be online at Washingtonpost.com next on Monday, Jan. 6.
For the past three years I've worked for a small business with only one other employee. My boss, the business owner, has serious mental health issues and has made the job extremely challenging at times. She has picked on me occasionally in the past but has currently turned her focus to my co-worker. We work in a private office suite and no one has access to it but the three of us. Our boss has her own bathroom off her office, and the other employee and I share a separate bathroom. While I was on vacation last month, our boss twice came into the employee bathroom and pooped in the shower (which no one uses). My co-worker discovered it after noticing a strange smell and finally opening the shower. My co-worker was so mortified and afraid of our boss she didn't say anything. The poop stayed until the cleaning lady came later in the week. The following week, it happened again. This time my co-worker mentioned the strange smell to our boss, who told her she was imagining it. My co-worker was then too scared to say anything else. Since my co-worker started working at the office, my boss had been behaving more bizarrely. She has started leaving her own bathroom door open whenever she uses it—we can hear it, and see her if we walk by. This is shocking bullying. But I don't want to quit because I am making way more in this position than I will get elsewhere, and I have flexible hours. Is all this a sign of dangerous mental illness? Should I flee? My co-worker has already put in notice.
—Sick of this S--t (Literally)
I hope you understand this enterprise is soon to go down the toilet because with an owner this disturbed there’s no way it stays a viable business. Most mentally ill people are not dangerous, but you are seeing an alarming escalation of her behavior. If she doesn’t avail herself of professional aid, she sounds as if she’s headed toward a psychotic break and hospitalization. If you happen to know any of the boss’s family members, you could call and alert them to what’s going on, and ask if they can intervene to get her help. But even if you ask them not to tip her off that you called, keep in mind you’re dealing with a boss who’s potentially delusional or paranoid. That could make for an even more noxious atmosphere than the current one. You are working at a place where any day the excrement could actually hit the fan. If you don’t leave, imagine yourself alone at the office with an increasingly bizarre boss. Start putting your résumé out there immediately, keeping in mind that future employers probably won’t pay the defecation dividend you now enjoy.
I’m a 13-year-old girl who has always been pretty shy. However, I've started to hang out with a new group of girls at my school. I really enjoy their company, and they have a funny sense of humor. They talk a lot about boys, and they frequently joke about their "little guys." I think these jokes are funny, but I also wonder if this sort of humor is disrespectful toward boys in any way. I hear female artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga sing about weenies in their music, but I don't know many high profile male musicians who sing about the female anatomy in their music. Is there anything wrong with women and girls like me joking about the male anatomy? Is it being disrespectful to boys in any way or is it a good sign that we feel free to talk about that part of the body?
—Naughty or Nice
Weenies can be funny. I think most people who possess them can even agree on that. If you did some research, you would discover that the female anatomy has been thoroughly examined and described in song. It is perfectly normal at 13 years old for members of both sexes to be doing a lot of thinking about members—some of the boys think of little else. Laughing with your friends about the foibles of relations between the sexes is fun, and there’s no reason for you to miss out on this bonding experience. I think it’s wonderful you’re aware, however, that not all jokes are good-humored and that you don’t want to participate in mockery. So as long as the laughs are not specifically directed at deriding an individual boy’s “little guy,” then enjoy the fun of breaking out of your shell and being one of the girls.