I am sorry for my absence last week; I have been fighting some sort of bug that seems to come and go as it pleases. I am not happy about it. I would rather either be sick or be well! But, I am back and ready to help with any and everything bothering you. Might as well jump right in! Let’s begin:
Q: I recently watched my friends’ baby (under one year old) for 14 hours. I was told that I would be compensated for my time, but when that happened I was given a six pack of soda. I actually thought it was a joke at first, I was so flabbergasted. No payment came my way (besides the soda). These same friends then asked me to watch their dog, and when I passive- aggressively asked if I would get more soda, they didn’t get it and said I would! I am so angry about this situation. Am I in the wrong? What should I do?
A: Oh my god. Fourteen hours for soda? That is sincerely uncool. My theory regarding babysitting is you either offer to do it for free because… I don’t know, maybe you’re a masochist? Or, you are compensated AT LEAST whatever minimum wage is in your state for each hour you were working. Because that is what babysitting is: work. And hard work at that! It’s not like this was a nine-year-old that you don’t really have to hover over; this was a baby.
And to offer you more soda for your time with the pet? I hate to say this, but your friends are cheap and clueless.
I also hate to say this, but I think the ship has sailed in regards to bringing it up now that some time has passed. But you are absolutely not in the wrong, and so I suggest that, if they ask you for a favor again, you tell them that you are more than happy to help out, but you have to be compensated monetarily for your time. Say it that way, too: compensated monetarily. Your time is worth something, and taking 14 hours of it for a sixer of Sprite is not what it’s worth! If they balk at your stipulations, it’s ok to turn them down. You are not a professional babysitter (I’m assuming). They can find someone else (maybe). Someone who works for soda. A seven-year-old, perhaps.
Q: I work for a small company (10 people) and one of the senior employees, a guy in his ‘50s, looks at porn on his phone every so often. I’ve caught him doing it at work and everyone seems to know about it and a few others have seen him do it, but they brush it off. I hate even just talking to him now. Is this messed up or am I overreacting?
A: OH MY GOD. What is with these questions this week? Do we live in a crazy world now, where people are paying for stuff in soda and getting boners at their office desks and it’s just a-ok?
You are definitely not overreacting. No one should be looking at porn at work, especially so carelessly that others can see what his sexual proclivities are. I have absolutely no issue with pornography, but there is a time and a place, and that time is not while on the clock.
You said it was a senior employee, and I guess I am unclear if that means he is your superior, or has just been there longer. But this is unacceptable, and I have to demand you let someone know. People should not be brushing this off, especially if it is such a small company—I am willing to bet one sexual misconduct suit would sink them. If you are not comfortable working with him or even talking to him, that is a huge problem. I suggest going to a higher up and telling him that you are not comfortable with this employee’s behavior. If you’d prefer not to say anything face to face, I suggest an anonymous letter:
“Dear (higher or highest up person here),
I am writing to inform you that (creepface’s name) has been watching NSFW programming in plain sight while in the office. This, of course, makes me very uncomfortable, and I would like for him to stop. I am sure you can understand that, due to the delicate nature of this situation, I wish to file my complaint anonymously, though I know I am not the only one who has witnessed this.”
Just copy and paste that; I’m sure they do not recognize my style of writing over yours.
Q: I’ve noticed lately that I kind of have a “grass is greener on the other side” mindset toward nearly everything in my life- relationship, work, etc. Maybe it’s social media, maybe I just am unhappy. I don’t really know. Do you have any advice to help me stop thinking this way?
A: This is something I struggle with, too; I think we all do. I am constantly looking for something better, and that unhappiness can really weigh on a person after a while. I have always been this way, but I think the advent of social media has compounded these feelings for a lot of people. Remember the saying that we are only seeing the highlight reels of others’ lives when we look at their Instagram or Facebook feeds… unless you’re me, because I write mopey shit all the time.
Maybe you don’t have your dream job, but you are employed, and that is good. Maybe you want to be single, but would miss the companionship of your significant other if you didn’t have him or her. I would suggest making a list of all the things you are grateful for, so that you can focus on all the positives in life. I would also make a list of goals—your goals! not the goals based on what you’re seeing from others— and focus on how you can accomplish them. I am a big fan of lists. Everyone should always be making lists.
Bear in mind that nobody has a perfect life, so the things you see online may just be a façade, and those people may be feeling the same as you! Constant comparison isn’t healthy; focus on you. Even if it means you have to delete your Facebook account.
That’s all I have for today! Until next week, take care, wonderful friends!
I publish all questions with a veil of anonymity. I would never want to expose someone, especially if their question is a sensitive one, such as domestic violence, sexuality, and the like. Therefore, I may edit questions down if I feel they are too specific, but please keep in mind that I am considering the whole picture when responding to you.
The advice given is for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace the legal, financial, medical, or professional advice of trained specialists.
Kolleen Carney is a Boston- born, Burbank- based poet with a B.A. from Salem State University in Salem, MA, and an MFA in Poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. She has served on the editorial team for Soundings East, Lunch Ticket, Paper Nautilus, and Zoetic Press. Her poetry and other writings have appeared or will be appearing in Currents, Vision/ Verse, Lunch Ticket, MassPoetry.org, Golden Walkman, The Watershed Review, Incredible Sestinas, Uno Kudo Vol. 4, A Quiet Courage, Yellow Chair Review, Drunk Monkeys, Odyssey, and Five 2 One. She is obsessed with California, Pez dispensers, and macarons. Her website is www.kolleencarney.com.