Office Mate Shares Illness
Dear Annie: We have an “open office” format, so during cold and flu season, we’re pretty much always passing around something or other. My co-worker “Dana” keeps getting sick with colds, the flu, sinus infections, etc., and I’ve noticed that Dana seems to be patient zero for the rest of us. She comes in with the sniffles, and a week later, we’re all dropping like flies.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that she doesn’t wash her hands after using the restroom at work. I’ve also seen her sneeze into her hands. She uses hand sanitizer at her desk, but I don’t see how that can get rid of all the germs properly. I’m so grossed out. I want to say something to her, but I don’t want to sound judgmental. Is there any tactful way to encourage her to be more hygienic and more careful about not spreading germs? Or should I just start wearing surgical masks? I’d appreciate some help here. — Sanitizing My Desk
Dear Sanitizing: There are some solutions short of wearing a hazmat suit to work. For one, talk to someone in your human resources department. If people are constantly out sick, it’s no good for your employer’s bottom line. The company should promote workplace cleanliness and employee health, perhaps by sending out a companywide memo with tips on how not to spread illness. If Dana keeps up her germ-factory ways, I do not think it would be out of line for you to talk to her privately. Perhaps lead in by giving her the benefit of the doubt. Say, for example, “I’ve noticed you often use hand sanitizer at your desk. I didn’t know this myself until recently, but that doesn’t actually eliminate a lot of the germs.” Though you really shouldn’t have to tell her how to properly wash her hands, it wouldn’t hurt to mention that she should use clean running water and lather, scrub and rinse her hands thoroughly. With any luck, you’ll be able to wash your hands of this situation.
Dear Annie: “Slapped in the Face” wrote to you about how her husband had wanted her to meet his new sweetie. You told her that he must be “miserable” to try to bring her down that way, because “the happier a person is the more he or she wants others to be happy.”
He isn’t necessarily “miserable.” He’s probably just egotistical, self-centered and clueless. My ex wanted me and the children to congratulate him on the wonderful new life he was going to have and was actually surprised and angry when we didn’t.
Though “Slapped” won’t believe it yet, she’s the one who will have the wonderful new life she can’t imagine now. She’s learning something valuable about herself. Meanwhile, he’s going to make the same old mistakes because he won’t have to learn. — Burlington, Vt.
Dear Burlington: Congratulations on the fact that your louse of an ex is no longer in your life. “Slapped” is indeed better off, too.
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