Times Standard (Eureka)

Employee needs a break

- Harriette Cole is a lifestylis­t and founder of DREAMLEAPE­RS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriet­te@ harriettec­ole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndicatio­n, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106

Dear Harriette: I work in a high-stress environmen­t with an unreasonab­le boss. She often makes us work through lunch, sometimes without even having time to go to the bathroom. It's crazy, but when we are in production, she expects all hands on deck — no matter what. The other day, I worked a good 10 hours without even having a bathroom break. When I said something to my boss, she looked at me like I was ungrateful.

I really do like the work that we do, but I can't keep up the pace. I don't want to quit or report my boss. I just want to have a better work environmen­t. What can I do? —Way Too Much

Dear Way Too Much: This may be the time to speak to your co-workers to see how they are doing. You are likely not the only one feeling stressed-out and unable to keep up. Since you like the work, perhaps together you can speak to your boss and attempt to reason with her. Make a written list of grievances that you all sign. Present this to her in person, and ask her to talk to you about current conditions and what you recommend to make the office environmen­t more manageable. She will likely balk, but if all of you speak up and let her know you cannot continue at this pace, she may relent.

If she doesn't work with you, you need to go above her head. Not allowing you to take a bathroom break or eat for 10 hours is dangerous.

Dear Harriette: I have been dating my boyfriend for six months, and the other day he brought me a dog as a present. A dog! I don't like dogs, and he knows it. I think he gave it to me because he wants me to start liking them. But I'm sorry, I think this is a cruel thing to do. I don't have time to take care of an animal. And I don't appreciate that he would try to be so manipulati­ve. This is not a good sign for our relationsh­ip. How do I handle this? For starters, I have to give him back the dog. But it's bigger than that. — No Dogs

Dear No Dogs: Have a serious conversati­on with your boyfriend; remind him that you do not like dogs and that you do not have the bandwidth to care for one. Tell him that you think it was reckless and uncaring to give you a dog when he knew you didn't want one. A dog is a living being who deserves to be loved and cared for. Give the dog back to him. Tell him it can be his responsibi­lity or someone else's who may want to accept him — not you.

Go further and ask him why he thought this was a good idea. This is an opportunit­y for the two of you to talk about values and boundaries. If you two are to be a couple, you have to know what is too much. Clearly, he crossed a line here. Figure out together how to make sure that never happens again.

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