Dear Amy: I have a friend whom I have known since high school. He has recently been in recovery for drinking.
He is about six weeks into an outpatient system and has been doing well.
A group of friends (including my friend in recovery) has been going on two camping trips a year together. We have been doing this for more than 20 years.
I have asked everyone who attends our camping trip to make this next trip (which is in two weeks,) alcohol-free.
I explained to them that I know he will have to deal with friends drinking in front of him eventually, but that it is too soon.
The reaction from some of the group is that I am being unreasonable and I should not be dictating what takes place on the camping trip.
What should I do?
Campmaster: You are not responsible for your friend’s recovery. He is.
I applaud your supportive attitude and desire to help him through this, but the simple fact is that he should probably not attend the camping trip this cycle. It is probably too soon in his recovery for him to leave town and attend an event that will supply all sorts of triggers for him.
You cannot count on others abstaining from alcohol, and — if they are more attached to their relationship to alcohol than their relationship with him — they will choose to drink.
The most responsible thing is to tell your recovering friend that you have tried, but cannot guarantee that others will not drink. Encourage him to connect with his sponsor and perhaps attend support meetings instead of camping, but (of course) leave the final decision up to him.
Dear Amy: I have an otherwise lovely co-worker who constantly whistles in our open-concept office. At our previous location, there were cubicle walls that absorbed some of the sound, but in our current space there is nowhere to hide.
I tried mentioning it to our mutual supervisor, who said, "Oh, I like the whistling!"
I have no problem mentioning to other co-workers that their music is disturbing or that they aren't using their inside voice and I can't hear my telephone conversation.
However, I don't want to be the office Grinch. If she is doing something many think of as "joyful," I don't want to admit that it is making concentration difficult for me.
Whistled Out: This situation reminds me of “The Office,” where character Michael Scott’s musical stylings were so disruptive.
Listening to someone whistle throughout the day would be torturous for many. For me, whistling is the aural equivalent of being tied to a chair with a swinging bare lightbulb overhead — I would confess to anything to have it stop.
Your supervisor should not answer a legitimate complaint by saying, “Oh, but I like it!” That is the essence of shutting you down.
Your lovely office mate might not realize that she whistles while she works as often as she does. Because her actions have an impact on many others, you should not hesitate to give her a heads up that you find it disruptive. You say, “Now that we’re in an open-plan office, I’m finding it hard to concentrate and take my calls when you’re whistling. I admire your skill, but it’s pretty distracting for me.”
Ear buds can also help.
Dear Amy: How sad that the writer of "Ball Catcher in Illinois" is bothered because kids step on their lawn. No complaint of vandalism or using profanity or anything else — just using their lawn!
I am thrilled when the neighbor kids ride their bikes down my driveway — it takes a village to raise a child!
They should be happy the kids are outside and not glued to video screens. Those kids will be grown up in no time. Wouldn't it be great for all involved for a relationship to form between neighbors?
Maybe someday the writer will need help with something and the kids or their families could help out.
I love my neighbors because of the bonds we've formed. Ball Catcher should consider the gift of being neighborly! He might find it feels good.
A Good Neighbor
Good Neighbor: Several people admonished me for not encouraging “Ball Catcher” to be a better and more involved neighbor. I was too focused on the idea that the kids weren’t aware of, or respecting, boundaries.
I do think it’s possible to show kids how to respect boundaries, while still being a good neighbor — but I take your point.