Recently in Co-workers Category





1.      Getting laid off from a job you like due to no fault of your own.  Really - it's a 21st century rite of passage.


2.      Getting stopped for a (minor, very minor) traffic violation and attending traffic school - you'll be much more aware of bending the rules when you have "points" on your DMV record.


3.      Vote - it doesn't matter who you vote for as long as you know WHY you are voting for them.


4.      Take care of a pet - even if it is just a friend's pet - for at least a week.  You'll get to experience the unconditional love of a living thing and won't have to obligate yourself to the long term commitment if it turns out you hate it.


5.      Go on a trip to a country where you do not speak the language and don't hang out with the other Americans.


6.      Work in a customer service/wait staff /retail job - you'll never be rude to those service industry employees again.


7.      Baby-sit kids for a whole weekend - again...they don't have to be YOURS, just see what it "feels like" to have another human being depending on you...


8.      Volunteer for an entire day - pick any cause and go with the intent of paying it forward - when it's not all about you it feels great afterward - don't just take my word for it.


9.      Assemble furniture from Ikea or any other big box company - it can try the patience of even the most Zen-like person - and teaches you to at least read directions in life when they are available - following them is another subject.


10.  Get dumped by someone you are crazy about - ask for pain?  Yeah, pretty much.  It teaches you a lot about being a better friend, not taking others for granted and that the heart is a very resilient body part.




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Dear Camille,

My coworker is always stealing my ideas and then acts like they are his while at the same time being two-faced enough to pretend he is my friend.  Advice?


Robbed in San Diego



Dear Robbed,

Uh oh, somebody's Mom didn't teach them how to play nice in the sandbox.  What really gets on my last nerve is how often this type of co-worker seems to come out smelling like a rose while you are standing there wondering "hey, what happened?"


Lesson #1 - except in very rare cases, these people DO know exactly what they are doing.  They are basically spotlight stealers who don't have any original ideas of their own.  The first time this sort of behavior rears its ugly head, you have to go back to the person and let them know that you're on to them...and so is everyone else.  The next time, you have to keep your ideas to yourself. 


And Lesson #2 - branch out and find some other friends...this so-called "friendship" is going nowhere fast.


Dear Camille,

I have a real dilemma at my part time job - a market research company.  I used to make about half my income there, but things have really slowed down.  I just happened to go into the office last week and there was a focus group going on - the job I usually handled.  I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. My two work friends there were very upset. They didn't know whether to tell me or not and didn't know if I had been asked to work the focus group. I have tried emailing the boss, but he doesn't respond to me. What do you think I should do? I'm such a wimp but I'm afraid bugging him and calling him at this point will just make things worse.

Wimp in Walnut Creek


Dear Wimp,

I feel your pain.  You know it is over, but you aren't ready to let go. First, I recommend you try to disconnect emotionally from this part time job.  From all the drama. 


If the "project" work you have been doing is in a lull or even gone forever due to changing business needs, (or hiring the boss's neighbor friend in your place) find something else and appreciate the work you had with them.  You can't make them give you work...they owe you nothing, so no need to take it personally. 


Use the experience and move to a new pasture.  Give the boss a phone call tomorrow and if he is not here, leave a pleasant message and call again in 2-3 days.  Let it go...sounds like it's over.




Dear Workminded,

They're b-a-a-a-a-c-c-c-c-c-k...It's Girl Scout cookie time again.  But it could be anything: greeting cards, candles, toys, books, puzzles, pretzles, name it, the kids are selling it to raise money for their schools and/or activities.  That's OK with me, but when it's your boss bringing in the goods and "expecting" everyone to help junior or their little princess win a trip to Disneyland, things get sticky.  I mean, I like me some thin mints, but this is getting out of hand.

Held Hostage by the Peddlers in La Jolla


Dear Held Hostage,

Yum, thin mint time is an annual highlight.  But feeling obligated to buy something sold by one's boss smacks of harassment.  Yes, mild, maybe benign, since you ARE getting something out of it too.  But, anytime we feel like we must  do something or else "something" will happen, it is clearly a misuse of power.  And the peddler boss knows their behavior is crossing the line...they always do.  That is part of their Machavilian strategy. 


You simply must say "no thanks", I am not interested.  Stop.  Do not....make up stories like "uh, I am diabetic ..." or "I am on a sugar-free fast..." or the very next time you are sitting in your fav eating place chowing down on a "Death by Chocolate" dessert with your possee, your boss will walk in.  It always happens...guaranteed. 


So, don't make up excuses.  Simply say "no thanks" and then when you can't get the thin mints off your mind, buy them directly from the adorable scouts outside the grocery store.  That way, you will get to have your eat them too.


Dear Camille,

The woman in the cubicle next to me eats potato chips, crunchy nuts and crackers every day. I've asked her to stop, but she persists. What do I do? Our boss is not someone I can talk to about this..."

Getting on my last nerve in Pacific Beach


Dear Last Nerve,

All-righty now...we have all been there.  The oaf who just doesn't get it.  The cubicle monkey that is constantly creating discord in the tribe. If you have talked to this revered co-worker and she refuses to play nice, you may have to get down to her level.  Just temporarily.  To raise her awareness of what an annoyance it is. 


Have you considered bubble gum?  Chewing and poppin' it, that is.  But  ONLY when no one else is around to hear or witness this professional reputation killing behavior.  See if she breaks...and if so, call a crispy snacks from her side of the cubical farm and no gum poppin' from your side. 


If that doesn't work, some discrete earplugs available at you local drug store are in order.  Believe CAN still hear what is going on around you with them in.  In the meantime, her cholesterol will still be sky high from eating all that junk.