Ask Amy

The Denver Post - - FEATURES - By Amy Dick­in­son Con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email,

Dear Amy: Now re­tired, I was al­ways the one at work that in­sti­gated get-to­geth­ers with col­leagues.

We worked for a gov­ern­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion and there­fore there were NEVER din­ners or so­cial oc­ca­sions spon­sored by the em­ployer be­cause we were us­ing tax­pay­ers’ money.

I in­sti­gated birth­day par­ties, of­ten out of my pocket, or we’d have an end-of-the-year blowout and I’d or­ga­nize peo­ple to chip in money to buy steaks for the grill and ev­ery­one would bring a dish to pass.

Now af­ter re­tire­ment, it seems it’s up to me to call ev­ery­one and find an agree­able date for what­ever the event, mostly just to re­con­nect and for fun.

I’m burnt out and of­fended that it’s left up to me. No one calls me just to visit, and I’ve just had it. If we were such great friends, I feel it should be up to ev­ery­one to make th­ese events hap­pen. — Burned Out in Michi­gan

Dear Burned Out: I think it’s pos­si­ble that th­ese peo­ple aren’t re­ally your great friends, but in­stead are amenable for­mer col­leagues who will lazily ac­cept an in­vi­ta­tion or agree to a plan if you do all the work. I give great credit to the so­cial fix­ers like your­self who re­mem­ber birth­days, or­ga­nize spe­cial oc­ca­sions, and show up at the of­fice with baked goods and a smile.

Work life would be a col­or­less ex­pe­ri­ence of gray-scaled drudgery with­out you.

How­ever, many peo­ple look for­ward to re­tire­ment partly for the joy of fi­nally be­ing in­de­pen­dent from the so­cial niceties that crop up at work and which some­times seem more like a forced con­nec­tion than a real friend­ship.

I’m not say­ing that th­ese peo­ple don’t like you — you should as­sume that they do. But it might be time for you to move on and form friend­ships among peo­ple who share more with you than work­ing on — or com­plain­ing about — the Peter­son ac­count. Look for peo­ple who oc­ca­sion­ally ini­ti­ate and re­cip­ro­cate.

Be­cause you de­serve a break. You’ve def­i­nitely earned it.

Dear Amy: We have a fe­male friend that flosses im­me­di­ately af­ter eat­ing at a res­tau­rant, which we find dis­gust­ing.

She does this at the ta­ble while ev­ery­one is talk­ing! What do you think of this prac­tice? — Dis­gusted

Dear Dis­gusted: Count me as “dis­gusted,” too. Not only is it un­hy­gienic, floss­ing falls into the cat­e­gory of “per­sonal care,” which sim­ply shouldn’t be per­formed in a pub­lic venue.

One of you could ask her to step into the ladies room and say, “I un­der­stand that you want to floss your teeth, but would you mind not do­ing it at the ta­ble?”

If you end your feed­back with a ques­tion, she will be forced to an­swer. If she says she’d rather do it at the ta­ble, I’d let her also pick up the check.

Dear Amy: “Way­ward Daugh­ter” was wor­ried about the im­pact her al­co­holic brother was hav­ing on their el­derly par­ents.

I lived through an ex­tremely sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion with my brother. He con­stantly asked my par­ents for money. He has a fam­ily of his own, and was still re­ly­ing on my par­ents, and likely his wife’s to some ex­tent, to get them through the rough spots. He even asked me to take money out of my 401k for him!

I re­sented him so badly, be­cause he was tak­ing ad­van­tage of my par­ents. I got so fed up that I wrote him a very long let­ter about how all that made me feel (sim­i­lar to your rec­om­men­da­tion).

That was a turn­ing point for our re­la­tion­ship. Af­ter he fi­nally got sober, we have grown closer.

Un­for­tu­nately, I’ve had to learn that only he can con­trol what he does, and only I can con­trol my re­ac­tion to it. I’m still not very good at it, but it’s a process. — Grate­ful

Dear Grate­ful: Good for you!

Dear Amy: When my wife and I had our child, I gen­er­ously of­fered to take over all laun­dry du­ties, since she was the one that had to get up at all hours of the night to feed and deal with our baby. This sys­tem worked out very well. I still do the laun­dry and the “baby” is now 39 years old.

You can rec­og­nize me if you see me: I’m the guy with “sucker” writ­ten across his fore­head.

Not re­ally com­plain­ing, — Happy Hus­band, Ve­dra Beach, Florida

Dear Happy Hus­band: I as­sume that your wife ap­pre­ci­ates how this par­tic­u­lar deal worked out.

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