| Urban Diplomat Advice on how to be a civilized Torontonian
I bought a bike off of Craigslist the other day, and when I went to meet the seller I was greeted by a very tall young man. By way of explaining the diminutive 10-speed in his possession, he told me he was selling it for his little sister. I took his word for it, but when I told my partner about the exchange, he laughed and said the bike was probably stolen. Was I wrong to make the purchase, and how can I keep my online buys above board?
—Hot Wheels, The Junction
First, ask yourself this: did you really buy the sister story, or did you just give him the benefit of the doubt to score a bargain? If you’re honestly gullible and don’t want to fall into that trap again, next time ask a few pointed questions. Toronto’s bike thieves may be gutsy enough to saw through locks on busy downtown streets in broad daylight, but you’ll catch an unsuspecting burglar off guard with inquiries about how old the bike is, where it’s from and when it was last repaired. Legit owners will be happy to answer. If you’re still unconvinced, ask for the bike’s serial number and run it through the Canadian Police Information Centre’s online database to see if it’s ever been reported stolen. And if the serial number has been removed, well, you have your answer.
Dear Urban Diplomat, I started a new job eight months ago and get along with all of my colleagues, but my much older supervisor recently sent a request to follow me on Instagram. I don’t necessarily have anything to hide, but I feel strange about her seeing my occasional weekend benders and stupid dating jokes. Is there any way to decline her request without insulting her?
—Up Close and Personnel, High Park
It’s perfectly acceptable to want to keep your alter ego under wraps. You’re not obligated to accept your boss’s request, and you’re equally unobligated to explain why. A lot of ghosted requests go unnoticed, but if your supervisor is determined enough to bring it up, let her
know that you use Instagram for outof-office connections and ask her to connect with you on LinkedIn. The conversation might be awkward, but not as awkward as her scrolling through the finer details of your private life. Option 2: stop posting evidence of your drunken nights out—they’ll come back to haunt you one way or another.
Dear Urban Diplomat, My friend recently went full-tilt vegan. Last week, I went out for dinner with him, and he was super-judgmental when I ordered a bacon burger, loudly listing off facts about the intelligence of pigs. I want to be considerate, but I would also appreciate being able to eat my food without feeling like there’s a cloud of shame hanging over my head. How do I get him to tone it down without seeming insensitive?
Picking a fight over who’s right isn’t worth your time (unless you want to spend your dinner listening to him rhyme off statistics from Cowspiracy). So, next time your friend goes on a tirade, let him know that you admire his enthusiasm but aren’t prepared to change your diet. Do your best to make your preference clear and then move on to a new topic. Keep in mind that his lectures are unlikely to last. Once the novelty of his newfound righteousness wears off, his need to proselytize should, too.
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