A: Soon your college will release all their acceptance and rejection letters, and after you deal with a next wave of outrage, all will be quiet for months. My daughter is a high school senior, and it's bizarre me to think of people calling an admissions office, letting their caller ID be seen, then acting rudely to the representative. (Note: Being rude to people on the other end of the phone is not acceptable even if you aren't trying to get your kid into their college.) So, yes, you should take secret gratification in knowing that some of the most obnoxious will not be at the accepted students celebration. You are stressed by your job, but keep in mind that the people who are calling you are also in extremis. I'm sure you've been in an emergency room, so you have to adopt the unflappable, I've-seen-it-all attitude of the people who work there. Just think, if you manage to stay calm and centered, you may be able to talk some of these loons back to equanimity. Even if you can't, these interactions surely are fairly brief. But if your job is undermining your mental health, start exploring other prospects at your college—working in the archives, groundskeeping, assisting the deans—anything that will keep you far from the madding crowd.
Q. Rape, pregnancy: I'm a man who got raped by a woman. I will spare you the details, but it genuinely was rape, if you accept that that's possible. No one else was present, and I did not report it. I have tried to stay away from her since then, but now, nine months later, she is about to give birth. I'm inclined to stay far away from this, but is that right? The child will still need a father. If the child is in fact mine and I do "claim" him/her, I know I'll be responsible for child support. And even if I don't, there's still a chance I could have to pay child support. Reporting what happened is probably out of the question now since it would seem like I was just trying to weasel out of my responsibilities.
A: You are raising a bunch of legal questions. I'm not even clear whether this woman has let you know she's gestating her child, or whether you've heard of her pregnancy through the grapevine. You need to talk to a lawyer about your allegations, what you do now, and what's ahead.
Q. Re: For triad: Divorce and remarriage often result in far more "bizarre" outcomes than the one she is describing.
A: Great point!
Q. Polite: I provide weekly home health services to toddlers and moms. I have a very comfortable professional relationship with them. We usually address each other by first name. One darling woman always addresses my co-worker and me as “Miss” followed by our first names. I think it's lovely, but now I feel rude when I address her only by first name. Should I start calling her “Miss” as well, or is it weird since I have already known her five months? She's only a few years older than I am, but she's such a gracious client. As a side note, there haven't been many times that I've had to directly use her name in this time.
A: "Miss Sally" is a delightful Southern tradition that allows one to be both respectful and intimate. However, you are comfortably on a first name basis with your clients and saying "Miss" is not natural for you. So, no, you don't need to echo this client when talking to her. Feel free to simply call her by her first name.
Q. New Co-Worker Outed at Work: A new co-worker just started at our company. He is the boyfriend of the boss's son. The boss's son also works at the same company in a different division and is extremely closeted at work. Everyone in the office already knows this new guy's past and no one cares that he is gay or dating the boss's kid (I broke everyone in when I came out at work). However, when asked about his connection to the boss, this person states that he is a good friend of the boss's other kid. While this person isn't being dishonest, I feel terrible knowing everyone is whispering behind this new person's back. I would like to let him know that everyone already knows about his past without coming across as a gossip or being weird. Should I let him know, or let him find out on his own?
A: Stay out of it. The issue for the new guy may have far less to do with being gay than nepotism. He may be saying he's just a friend of the other son (which surely he is) so that people don't cluck, "Oh, he got the job because of his romantic involvement." As you know, people will gossip and eventually it may come back to the new guy that everyone knows he's the partner of the boss's son. But I don't see anything in it for you by pointing this out to him.
Q. Does the Bride Need to Know?: A longtime friend who lives across the country recently called me up to ask me to be a bridesmaid. What I wasn't prepared for was the way she went into detail about why she was asking me. I learned I was a backup because she demoted one of her original bridesmaids and critiqued her behavior. I accepted, although admittedly my feelings are a little hurt that I wasn't a first choice. After we hung up I realized her wedding is nine months away. My husband and I are trying to start a family, so it's possible that I may not be able to make the trip for her wedding. Would it be better to let her know now and decline to be a bridesmaid, or should I wait until I'm actually pregnant and go from there? I do treasure our friendship and would love to be part of her wedding day if possible.
A: Given that you got an earful about how the previous bridesmaid failed in her duties, do be prepared for what's going to be expected during this long march. However, you are not required to announce your reproductive plans to your friend. If you get pregnant right away and the wedding will potentially coincide with your labor, then you alert your friend. I have heard from several pregnant bridesmaids who have been reamed out by angry brides over how inconsiderate they were not to use birth control during the time leading up to the bride's nuptials. These situations do make me wish that when the pregnant bridesmaid sways down the aisle her water breaks and she steals the show.
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