Dear Amy: I work in an office where many people work remotely but are in the office a day or two a week for a few hours at a time.
We all have individual offices but often chat briefly individually and in-person about our personal lives.
A co-worker recently said she was “uncomfortable” about the amount of traveling I do on my days off and requested I always wear a mask around her.
I acknowledged her concern by saying that of course I would wear a mask.
I have decided to no longer engage in personal conversations at work and now this seems to be a problem for her.
I haven’t been mean about it; I am simply choosing to no longer engage in private conversations with her.
What I do away from work is really no one else’s business. I am a very safe traveler and practice good hygiene and have not been sick since the outbreak of the pandemic.
This particular co-worker smokes and drinks to excess on her days off, but I have never judged her or spoken to her about her chances of contracting cancer from her habits.
Do you have any words of wisdom for those of us still working in an office on handling the various attitudes and personal responsibilities to one another during this time? — Don’t Judge Me
Dear Don’t Judge Me: If you don’t want to be harshly judged, then don’t be reactive and judgmental, yourself.
Your co-worker’s smoking and drinking habits when she is at home have no bearing on your health – and you know it.
Your traveling could (conceivably) have a bearing on hers – and others’ – and you know that, too.
My advice to people sharing office space is to comply with the local, statewide, and companywide guidelines.
My advice to people wrestling with how to behave toward others who are at risk, nervous, anxious — or outright neurotic about contracting COVID — is that the people who are physically and mentally healthier should adjust their behavior to the level of the most vulnerable.
It’s no fun, and sometimes (as in your case), you can feel manipulated, disrespected, or wounded.
Your co-worker’s mask request was reasonable. Your defensive response was ridiculous, as was hers! At last, common ground.
Dear Amy: I want to give your readers a different perspective on how rough the holiday season has been.
I am married to a police officer. We do not have children. A lot of years I am alone on Christmas or attend family events by myself because he is working or sleeping to prepare for his shift.
And you know what? It’s OK! I plan movies to watch, light some candles and buy food I love to indulge in.
Several years ago, my mom was in the hospital on Christmas and those doctors, nurses, and support staff were there, too.
Firefighters, hotel workers, road crews do not get to celebrate with their families, either.
For us, this is not the “new normal,” it’s just normal.
Hopefully, next year will be normal for those of you going through this “new normal,” but remember next year that your normal is not everyone’s reality. — A Different Normal
Dear Different: Thank you! You’ve offered your important perspective at the perfect time. None of us should ever forget the lessons we have learned this year. My gratitude goes out — way, way out — to all who work so hard to give the rest of us a “normal.”
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been through a lot of ups and downs over the years. Despite having a one-year-old child together, the topic of divorce has come up more than once, but we’re still hanging in there.
Regardless, at the end of the day, every wife wants to hear her husband say, “Babe, if I had to marry you all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat.” But I know that he genuinely does not feel this way. And because of that, I feel less secure. Should I be worried? — Confused
Dear Confused: If you had it to do all over again, would you marry your husband in a heartbeat? Some days yes, some days probably not.
The first couple of years of family life with a baby can be extremely stressful. I think you should decide to shelve your question. Put it aside.
I can’t tell you whether to be worried about the future of your marriage, but I can say, with certainty, that “hanging in there” is something to celebrate.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: email@example.com. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter@askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.