Ask Amy

Monday, March 22, 2010 at 8:45pm

DEAR AMY: I work in a cubicle across a narrow hall from the water cooler, restrooms and kitchen. Co-workers tend to congregate in this area and carry on conversations on all topics, work-related and otherwise.

As you can imagine, the noise level is high and frequently distracts me from my work, especially when I'm on the telephone.

I (and others bothered by this noise) have on occasion asked the (clueless) offenders to keep it down. Usually they're apologetic and move on.

Others, however, take it as a personal affront and storm off in a huff.

No one in a position of authority is willing to take on this issue.

I'd like to post a sign on the exterior wall of my cubicle reminding people that their co-workers are in fact trying to work and to kindly keep it down.

Humor seems to work with this crowd. Do you have any suggestions on how to word my message?

— Reluctant Eavesdropper

DEAR EAVESDROPPER: Some offices don't allow humorous cubicle art, but if yours does, how's this?

"We all know we don't really work around here, but let's keep this secret from our clients and customers. Shhhhhh!"

Deliver this message as a thought bubble over a picture of "The Office" character Dwight Schrute's head, and your co-workers should get the message.

You should also come up with ways to tune this out. People who work in busy environments (newsrooms, for instance) often have to pretend they're laboring away in a noisy barnyard and develop selective hearing skills.

I'll happily run tips from other readers who spend their days in cubicle farms.


DEAR AMY: My adult daughter, who is back in college full time (living on a shoestring budget), is planning a spring break trip with her boyfriend, who has a good job that pays well.

They are driving to a nearby city to ski and will be staying with friends. The main cost of the trip will be for the ski lift tickets.

I think her boyfriend should pay for her lift tickets, since he is more than capable, but my daughter says he is paying for food and gas and she will probably buy her own lift tickets.

At what point does the more successful partner take charge financially? They have been dating for about nine months now, and I feel he should be paying for the whole trip.

What do you think?

What are the rules regarding a financially secure man paying for trips and dinners?

I would have no problem with her paying her own way if she could afford to, but at this point she really can't afford any extras.

— Perplexed

DEAR PERPLEXED: Some couples always split the check down the middle, no matter who earns more. Some couples pro-rate their expenses, based on their proportional earnings.

In my view, no one member of a couple should "take charge" financially. Nor should the one who makes more money necessarily be considered "more successful."

Unless your daughter comes to you asking for a handout — either for this trip or for other bills she's neglected in order to finance this trip — then you should refrain from expressing a point of view about the specifics of this transaction. Let it lie.


DEAR AMY: There has been a spirited discussion in your column about young people who dropped in on their grandparents unexpectedly.

Both of my grandparents are gone now, but the lessons I learned from them will be with me forever.

The door to my grandparents' home was always open to my brothers and me. They gave us unconditional love. We always knew there were goodies in the refrigerator.

We lived within walking distance of my grandparents, and they never considered us an imposition. After my father died, it was my grandparents who helped buy food and clothing and took us places.

I saw two people of modest means give generously to others.

Neither of my grandparents went to college, but they were able to pass on their wisdom: to be surrounded by loving family and friends and to appreciate life's gifts.

One day I hope to be as good a grandfather to my grandchildren as my grandparents were to me. They will be able to drop in on me anytime.

— Michael from Wyncote, Pa.

DEAR MICHAEL: I have a feeling your grandparents would be very proud of you.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

3 Comments on this post:

By: dustywood on 3/23/10 at 6:16

Regarding the noisy cubicle worker, this person should do what a lot of others do in this situation. She could wear headphones that silence the background noise, like you have on airplanes. Or she could listen to music with the headphones. The only time they need to be off is when you are answering the phone. This works great when you need to concentrate on computer work. If not, just learn to tune it out. Unless of course you really want to pick up on all the gossip at the water cooler.

By: dustywood on 3/23/10 at 6:24

My grandparents lived across the street from me most of my life. We were welcome to come over anytime. I always knocked first, unless the door was open.
My dad worked long hours, many times we were left without adult supervision because of this. Mom had died when I was very young. So without the grandparents across the street, we would have been very alone. I never liked it when they would be gone to the mountains for the summer. Once I spent the whole summer with them, learning to swim and fish.
I thanked my grandmother for putting up with me several years later. This was a labor of love. Because of this non judgemental grandparent, who gently guided me over the years, I had a home and stability. She lived to be 103 yrs of age. I miss her greatly.

By: NewYorker1 on 3/23/10 at 8:06

Dear Perplexed: I think your daughter's boyfriend should dump your daughter and get with someone on his same level. There, problem solved.