Reader’s Commentary “I’m the person who wrote about the "uncomfortable co-worker" in your October 4 column.
“I try to be objective and welcome constructive criticism.
“However, I think that you’re off the mark this time.
“While it’s true that my co-worker didn’t choose to be obese, he chose to not own a car, which saves him thousands of dollars and it's great for the environment - good for him.
“I, on the other hand, pay thousands for the convenience of my car for my own use. The last time I gave him a lift, he swung the door wide open and scraped its corner on the curb!
“You’re suggesting that because he has a disability, I should automatically share my car with him.
“I don't mind if it’s one-off, but it’s becoming a regular habit. He never offers to buy me coffee for the favour; so disability or not, he’s taking advantage! Why doesn't he just pay another $5 to catch a taxi?
“It’s my choice whether I want to offer anyone that convenience without anything in exchange.
“If I were to tell him outright why I don't like doing it, then you can accuse me of being insensitive.
“Occasionally I have to sit beside him at work, but I don't say anything about it.
“I don't think air-fresheners work. It's just masking one odour with another, saturating the air with even more particles.”
Ellie – Thanks for your direct response. It helps me and my readers know more about you and what’s happened since you initially agreed and continued to drive this man two-to-three times weekly en route to your gym.
You obviously meant well and I should’ve said that in my initial response, since you’d mentioned his difficulty walking due to obesity, and that you get along fine with him at work.
The question you asked then was whether you’d come across as rude, selfish, or insensitive if you started to decline the lift.
I believed then that you’d be judged harshly by this man (and perhaps other co-workers such as his roommate who drives him to work).
But in this second letter, you’ve noted that he’s taken your ride for granted and also caused some damage to your car.
So I’m now in agreement that it’s time to end the arrangement, which has become so annoying.
Unfortunately, I still believe he’ll think unkindly of this decision, but that’s a risk you unwittingly took by letting it become a pattern.
You said previously that you’re not good at lying. Perhaps if you miss swimming a couple of times, or work through lunch and leave early to swim, you can honestly say you’re not always driving his way.
You obviously worried about how to stop driving him because you wanted to be kind, so that’s a gentle way.
FEEDBACK This to the above’s first letter of Oct. 4:
Reader – “Your response to "Uncomfortable Co-worker" was perhaps a bit harsh. The issue for this person is not the detour, but the man's unpleasant odour.
“I’m very sensitive to odours. To have someone with body odour in the close proximity of a car would literally make me gag and even vomit.
“It’s unlikely this person is the only one that notices the odour. Perhaps, like the writer, other co-workers may be unsure what to say.
“You could have a word with a supervisor, or office manager, who might have a chat with the person. Human Resources staff would also be able to provide assistance in speaking to the person.
I’ve been dating this guy for two months. He has children with a lady who’s not completely over him.
Their weekly family time together concerns me (he doesn’t see his children every day as he’d wish).
He takes them and their mom out.
Should I be bothered so much by this? Do I say, I'm just not comfortable with you and your children's mother going out together?!
It’s too early for you to ask for changes in how he sees his kids, and whether he includes their mom.
Any decent, responsible father would tell you that.
Also, the circumstances matter – e.g. if the children are very young and he wants her help on outings, or the couple haven’t been apart for long and the kids are adjusting better this way.
Your relationship’s apart from his role as a father, but may change over time if you don’t push him.
Tip of the day:
When a “favour” becomes an uncomfortable habit, speak up early and gently.