Between a Rock and a Hard Place on the Holidays
Dear Margo: I need advice. I work in a chain restaurant as a cook making minimum wage. My manager recently told me I have to work three of the four holidays coming up (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day). I offered to work Christmas Eve and New Year’s, but not the other two.
I am a single parent with three small children, and I feel it is unfair that I would have to work a low-paying job on days when I should be spending time with my family. My parents have also said they really don’t want to babysit when they are busy hosting our large extended family in their home. They are loving grandparents who enjoy my children; they just would like to enjoy their holiday without the added stress and responsibility of keeping three kids happy and entertained.
Do I have any right to tell my employer I can’t work on holidays? It’s not right that the higher-paid employees in the company get to enjoy the day off with their families. — Working for a Scrooge
Dear Work: First, I would try reasoning with your boss, asking if someone without children could take the other two holidays. I would also tell him that four holidays is excessive and that you think your consenting to two is generous. I don’t know whether there are “rights” in this matter, but if he rejects your arguments, you must decide, in this rotten economy, whether the job or the holiday is more important. Perhaps check around first to see whether there’s another position for you. I wish you luck. — Margo, empathically
When the Time Has Come To Give Someone the Heave-Ho
Dear Margo: This soon-to-be empty nester is desperately seeking advice, or she may fly the coop! My husband of 20 years, a well-respected professional, is distant in every form of communication between husband and wife. When I try to have a conversation with him, the usual response is: “Can’t you see I’m doing…” or “I don’t want to talk about it now.” Then he gets angry when he hasn’t been brought up to date on family events.
I compliment him on the work he does around the house with his “handyman” skills, but I never receive any compliments whatsoever. It’s like he has built a huge fortress around himself. In the evening, while watching TV or reading the newspaper, he’ll be writing a “to-do” list. If I ask him about it, you’d think I was asking him to reveal a top government secret. If I ask what’s on his mind, the answer is “nothing.” If I ask what he plans on doing today, the answer is “I don’t know.” When I ask for an opinion about how we should fix something or handle a situation with our children, he tells me, “Quit nagging.” If he doesn’t get his way, he behaves like a toddler, storming off and then more of the silent treatment.
Our children are heading off to university very soon, and I don’t think I can tolerate this anti-social and “top secret” behavior anymore. I am faithful to this man, and I have kept my sanity by creating my own social network and activities with the children that do not involve him. Heeeelp. — Tired of Life Outside the Fortress
Dear tired: What are you sticking around for? If there is a redeeming feature to this uncommunicative and icy man, I couldn’t discern it between the lines. I think flying the coop sounds like the perfect response to this turkey, and the timing is superb. Something is eating him, but all right, already. I would do him the courtesy of announcing that you have had it with his peculiarities, and that unless he can give you a good reason not to, you are filing for divorce. — Margo, justifiably
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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