The Washington Post

Ask Amy: Bitterness from co-worker at coffee shop

DEAR AMY: I work at an independent coffee shop. The only thing I don’t love about my job is my co-worker. He will not communicate with me at all, unless I have a work question. Then he is condescending.

At first I tried to make conversation with him, but he would give one-word answers or sometimes not even respond at all. Finally it was making me feel so bad that I just gave up. Now we work in frozen silence.

The thing is, he is very chatty and affable with the customers. I can think of nothing I’ve said or done to offend him. I am a competent worker, helpful and friendly.

I can’t talk directly to him about this because anything I can think to say sounds foolish or is deniable.

Now I am thinking of telling the owner, “I like everything about working here except the hours I have to work with this person. In fact, I dislike working with him so much that it’s making me want to quit.”

But what is she supposed to do with that? He has been there a long time, and he’s a good, reliable worker. She’s not going to fire him, and if she speaks to him about this, it will make things even more uncomfortable for me.

I feel as though my only option is to quit, which I don’t want to do. Any ideas? -- Barista

DEAR BARISTA: Your co-worker is doing his job, which is to serve customers. He may be gaslighting or deliberately trying to bully you by freezing you out, and you are doing an awesome job of taking the bait to the extent that you are considering quitting.

Your co-worker doesn’t want to be your chatty friend. Obviously your day would be much more pleasant if you two were buddies, but this is not a requirement of the job, unless his treatment has a direct impact on customers or services.

I suggest being brave enough to confront this yourself, without involving the boss. Tell him, “You don’t seem comfortable with me. Is there a problem?”

If he blows you off, you should tell yourself that he is just a curmudgeon. Poor guy. Do as “Mr. Sunshine” does, and save your charming and enjoyable interactions for the customers.

DEAR AMY: I receive many e-mails from friends — jokes, stories, etc. — but also many politically oriented ones. I really don’t care about their political beliefs. Additionally, the e-mails are often downright offensive.

How do I stop them from sending these types of e-mails without offending them or negatively affecting our friendship? -- Politically Neutral

DEAR NEUTRAL: I have learned from professional (and personal) experience that you cannot stop people from sending whatever mail they want to send.

The beauty of e-mail is that you can control the process from your end. You can choose to selectively delete an e-mail based on its subject line without opening it, or if there are people in your life who only send this sort of objectionable mail, you can create a “rule” in your e-mail system, consigning all mail from a particular address to a specific folder — or straight into the spam file.

DEAR AMY: You recently printed a letter from a young woman, “Of Sound Mind,” who felt strongly that she would never want to bear children.

You subsequently followed up with another letter from a woman who suggested that “Of Sound Mind” might change her mind about wanting children, as she herself had.

I must share my own experience on this topic. At 17 I felt certain that I would never want children. People lined up to tell me that I would change my mind.

When I was married, many people encouraged us to have children, even though we didn’t want them, because they were sure that we would one day regret our decision.

It took me years to find a gynecologist willing to perform a tubal ligation. But it was absolutely the right decision for me. I’m 62 years old now and have never for one minute regretted the decision to live happily child-free. -- Happy

DEAR HAPPY: Thank you for presenting this important point of view.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

by the Chicago Tribune



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