Dear Prudence: A co-worker is stealing my used gym underwear.

Help! Someone at Work Is Stealing My Used Gym Underwear.

Help! Someone at Work Is Stealing My Used Gym Underwear.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 5 2014 3:02 PM

Sweat Theft

In a live chat, Prudie offers advice on the workplace theft of used gym underthings.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: Unwanted clothing advice: Is it possible that this person has more skin showing than she realizes? One problem with jeans in the office is the dreaded crack. Or does this employee have more cleavage showing than the others? It may not have been the weight that made her singled out.

A: Good points. That’s why I think she needs a wardrobe review with a kind but honest friend.

Q. Job Search—Conflict of Interests: A former colleague and I are both searching for a new job within the same field and geographic location. I found a perfect fit for me, applied for it and used this colleague as a reference (with her permission). The application system automatically sends each reference an email requesting a referral. About a week after I applied, I received a request for a reference for the same position for this former colleague. It’s possible she found the job opening on her own and it’s possible she found it via my application. I don’t know how to reply to the request. I do have small misgivings (regarding her professional abilities) about referring her, but were it not for this situation I would refer her. I’m afraid to approach HR because it could color their opinion of me and I don’t want to sabotage her but I also don’t want to hurt my chances by giving her a glowing referral. What should I do?


A: You applied for a job, your former colleague agreed to be a reference, and now you’re supposed to be a reference for her for the same job! You need to find someone else who thinks highly of your work, and get that person as a reference. Once you do, you can inform HR at the potential employer that since your own reference has applied for the job, there is now a conflict of interest, so you are putting down another name. With your former colleague off your application, you can then tell her that you both need to find people to vouch for you who aren’t in competition for the same position.

Q. Re: Funny last name: I grew up with parents with two different last names because my dad’s is funny. I had my dad’s last name until my parent’s hyphenated it when I was in middle school. The three things I wish my parents had done/taught me sooner are as follows. 1) Warned me; I had to learn from some other kids that my last name was weird and it left me unprepared to deal with it. 2) Hyphenated my name sooner; it won’t stop the teasing but it will give him something to talk about. It will also give him the chance to acknowledge that he knows his last name is funny, which takes a lot of the fun out of teasing. 3) Taught me to joke about it; once I got over the embarrassment and learned to be the first to make jokes about it, people stopped teasing me and actually started to like me as it gave me a chance to be funny and laid back.

A: Thank you so much for this. If the parents don’t want to hyphenate, I don’t think they should. But it’s great life advice to disarm the teasers with your own sense of lightness and humor. If you can say, “Yes, I’m a Uranus. And I’m going to add your clever entry into the Uranus joke book.” 

Q. Get Involved or Not: My wife and I live near a college town in the north of the country. One of the nieces goes to college here and as the rest of the family lives in the deep South we see her quite often. We like her and she seems to appreciate our more liberal way of life after growing up in a conservative evangelical environment. A few months ago our niece came out to us and told us she’s a lesbian. We were supportive and found her girlfriend to be a very lovely person. The problem is my wife’s sister, her mother, doesn’t know. She hasn’t told her yet. Probably because she expects a negative reaction as her mother in the past often has expressed hostility toward gays. My question is: Should we get involved or stay out of it? My wife thinks she owes it to her sister not to keep this secret from her. I on the other hand feel like it is not our job to reveal this, but the nieces. What do you think ? Who is right here?

A: Your niece is a young adult, and when (or whether) to tell her parents about her sexual orientation is her decision. However, having told you, you should continue to be sources of support for her. Not just as regards her sexuality, but for any college student it’s a comfort to be able to go off campus and get a home-cooked meal and relax with family. I hope your niece does tell her parents and that it goes far better than she expects. If not, she’s spending more of her time near you and your wife than her parents, so fortunately you two can be there to help her through this. 

Q. Re: Surname, from letter writer: Thank you. Am putting it to rest mentally now, once and for all. Much much appreciated. You’re the best, Prudie!

A: That was easy! Take heart from the stories of others with “funny” last names.

Q. When a Man Moves On From Models: Before me, my boyfriend exclusively dated professional models. I really love the way I look, but I also recognize I am not traditional model material. A lot of his friends are surprised the first time they meet me. Several have made comments to him (out of my supposed earshot, or even when I’m standing there) about me not being his “type.” It stings a little, but my boyfriend always calls them on their rudeness. My best friends think it’s a “red flag” that he only dated models before me and that he is friends with so many people who would comment on the difference between his exes and me. I have never talked about his ex-girlfriends’ looks with him, because they’ve never really bothered me. It seems like a surefire recipe for making me look needy. What do you think?

A: I love your confidence, although I don’t love his friends. Yes, your beau may have been, in the words of Sex and the City a “serial modelizer,” but maybe he got tired of women who could only eat a cracker and a strawberry for dinner, and by necessity were consumed with their looks. Another advantage to this is that he doesn’t have to wonder what it would be like to date a model. He knows and has chosen to move on to someone great-looking who doesn’t spend her life in front of the camera. But what’s with the friends? I agree it would sound needy to say, “I’m feeling insecure because I’m not a model.” But when his friends say something within your earshot, you should feel free to say, “I guess Derrick needed a heads up that I’m not Gisele Bundchen.” (It’s good to hear he does put them in their place for their rudeness.) I think you should just carry on confidently, and that means telling your best friend his past dating choices don’t bother you.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.