Ask Amy: Seniors bristle at center director’s tirades

November 9, 2013

DEAR AMY: Our town has a free senior exercise group that meets five mornings a week. Recently, because of painting in the building, we had to meet in a different room in the basement, not a favorite spot.

Unfortunately, a few of the seniors commented unfavorably on this within earshot of the director. She came down and yelled at the group, threatening to close the center.

Her lack of respect for her guests/seniors is causing resentment and anger, yet we would hate to go to her boss about this. We know she needs the job and does very well (other than her tirades).

On another tirade occasion, a doctor connected with a foot clinic who held regular clinics at our center told her he would no longer come if this continued.

Do her actions constitute verbal elder abuse? Any suggestions for how to handle this? -- Senioritis

DEAR SENIORITIS: I don’t think it’s appropriate to use the term “elder abuse” when what you are dealing with is garden variety unprofessional (and inexcusable) behavior. And while I agree that on one level it is abusive, you dilute the meaning of elder abuse if you make this claim.

You should, however, take action. Behaving poorly — aside from tirades — is still unacceptable from someone whose job is to deal with (and serve) the public.

If the director of this center truly needs this job then she will have to figure out how to adjust her behavior. You (and your senior posse) should definitely go to a higher-up to report this issue.

DEAR AMY: I am a college student experiencing what seems like a seventh-grader’s social problems. In my small and tight-knit major, a shift seems to have occurred over the summer. Friends with whom I was once close now seem distant.

I tried to hang out and stay in touch with people over the summer, but more often than not they were too busy.

Of course, a la “Mean Girls,” I suspect this is the work of one particular girl, who is extremely nice to me in person but seems manipulative and gossipy. (I know from another gossipy source that she never liked me much.)

Besides her, these other “friends” of mine will be my classmates and colleagues for years to come; so how do I overcome that notorious sensation known as “FOMO” — fear of missing out?

I’m not one to invite myself places, but how can I deal directly with this situation? -- Confused Girl

DEAR CONFUSED: If you want to try to effect a different outcome, you will have to be brave enough to see this for what it is (seventh grade-style social shenanigans) but approach it in an adult fashion.

Age has no relationship to adult-style maturity, but it helps to imagine how an “adult” would ideally handle a situation like this — and simply act, as if.

Act as if you are dealing with other mature people who can manage to be socially decent. Act as if your colleague can deal with an honest and transparent question.

You say to the Queen Bee (privately): “I perceive some tension with you. What’s going on?”

After this, you need to behave as if you are completely in charge of your life. Train yourself to enter in, initiate social contact, and do your best to be open, friendly and inclusive.

DEAR AMY: You said that if a spouse agrees to it, then cheating isn’t really cheating. I disagree.

Each advice columnist who approves of an affair, each couple who lives together before marriage, each financial “expert” that suggests a pre-nup for engaged couples is cheating faithful couples because it cheapens the commitment of marriage. -- Melissa

DEAR MELISSA: I don’t see how other people’s choices — social, financial or otherwise — are cheating you or other faithful married couples out of anything.

I interpret “cheating” as being sexually and/or emotionally intimate with another person without the knowledge or permission of your partner.

I do think that being sexually intimate with others (with permission from your spouse) stretches the definition of what we know of as “marriage,” but I don’t believe this arrangement among all consenting adults is necessarily unethical.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune

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