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The Company Bore

By Mink Stole | Posted 8/10/2005

There is a woman in our office who is a total time-suck. From Monday morning straight through Friday afternoon, she never stops yakking. She works right next to the office kitchen and the copy and fax machines, so any time one of us uses the machines or just gets a cup of coffee, there she is, lying in wait, with some long, boring story about how her husband had to wait in line at the drugstore for his blood-pressure medication, or how her son painted his garage doors three times because he couldnít get the color right, or her daughter-in-law found a new hairdresser, or her grandson got a B in mathóno detail about her family is too small to shareóand much of it is accompanied by photographs. She isnít mean, sheís just relentless. No one wants to hurt her feelings, but sheís driving all of us nuts. How do we get her to shut up when weíre trying to get work done?

Office in Uproar

Thereís always one, OIU, always. Sometimes there are more, but at the very least, every work environment has one person that pretty much rubs everyone else the wrong way. This person functions as a sort of lightning rod for whatever miscellaneous irritations and annoyances are in the office atmosphere. This isnít to say that you donít have a legitimate gripe, but if you were to eliminate this particular person, it wouldnít take long before someone else filled the gap. It may be small comfort, but at least your co-worker is merely tedious, not poisonous.

If sheís not on some kind of medication that keeps her talking, sheís probably lonely. If she natters like this at you all day, imagine how long ago her family learned to tune her out. Nonetheless, you canít let her interfere with your job. The next time she pounces on you with some dreary anecdote about her life and family, tell her youíd love to hear all about it, but right now you have to concentrate and will catch up with her later. Be polite but firm. Her feelings may be a little hurt at first, but if you make a point at the end of the day or week, or whenever you have a few free minutes, to seek her out specifically to ask her about herself, sheíll probably be so pleased that you made an effort that sheíll get over it. Youíll still have to hear more about her than you ever wanted to know, but at least you can control when.


Iím 27 and happily married, but before I met my husband I dated quite a few men, some of whom I was intimate with. My husband and I also made love before we were married. My parents never knew; they thought I was a virgin at my wedding. Theyíre rigidly religious and think that premarital sex is a direct road to hell. My 17-year-old sister still lives at home, and Iím pretty sure sheís sexually active. I want to talk to her about safe sex, but I donít know how to bring up the subject. Iím sure that if she has asked our mother any questions she got the same answers I did: Sex is a sacred marital duty, and anything else (probably including enjoying it) is a sinóend of discussion. I donít want her to think Iím butting into her life, or encouraging her to be promiscuous, but if she is having sex, I want her to be aware of the consequences of carelessnessóand Iím not talking eternal damnation here, Iím talking pregnancy and disease.

Want Her Safe

If your sister is already sexually active, WHS, you wonít have to go into any of those awkward Insert-Tab-A-Into-Slot-B explanations, but whether your sister is or is not familiar with the mechanics, the sooner you get this conversation started the better. Conservative religionís threats of a far-off and abstract hell are often no match for popular mediaís portrayal of ours as a joyfully sex-saturated society. The tragedy is that a dogmatic insistence on the former so often makes realistic discussion of the latter so difficult.

If youíre shy about asking if sheís having sex, ask her if sheís gotten your momís road-to-hell speech yet and tell her about your own experience. Itís amazing how much bonding you can get out of sharing those deeply embarrassing moments. Then ask her if she knows how to protect herself. Tell her youíre not trying to encourage her one way or another, or scare her, but that thereís a lot of misinformation out there and you want her to have the facts. Tell her that her first, best line of defense is a condom, which helps protect against disease and pregnancy, but that since itís not foolproof itís a good idea to back it up with a personally controlled contraceptive like the pill or a patch. And, if appropriate, be ready to take her to your local Planned Parenthood. (Insisting on a condom can also be effective in protecting against the more casual advances of her overly hormonal male friends.) The most important thing is that you let her know that youíre there for her, and that the information she gets from you comes with love and without judgment.

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Pick and Choose (4/12/2006)
First of all, homosexuality isnít like snake handling or Catholicism; it isnít a cult or a religion you can be recruited for or converted to.

Territorial Rites (4/5/2006)

Family Guy (3/15/2006)

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