The Company Bore
Office in Uproar
There’s 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 isn’t to say that you don’t have a legitimate gripe, but if you were to eliminate this particular person, it wouldn’t 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 she’s not on some kind of medication that keeps her talking, she’s probably lonely. If she natters like this at you all day, imagine how long ago her family learned to tune her out. Nonetheless, you can’t let her interfere with your job. The next time she pounces on you with some dreary anecdote about her life and family, tell her you’d 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, she’ll probably be so pleased that you made an effort that she’ll get over it. You’ll still have to hear more about her than you ever wanted to know, but at least you can control when.
I’m 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. They’re rigidly religious and think that premarital sex is a direct road to hell. My 17-year-old sister still lives at home, and I’m pretty sure she’s sexually active. I want to talk to her about safe sex, but I don’t know how to bring up the subject. I’m 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 sin—end of discussion. I don’t want her to think I’m 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 carelessness—and I’m not talking eternal damnation here, I’m talking pregnancy and disease.
Want Her Safe
If your sister is already sexually active, WHS, you won’t 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 religion’s threats of a far-off and abstract hell are often no match for popular media’s 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 you’re shy about asking if she’s having sex, ask her if she’s gotten your mom’s road-to-hell speech yet and tell her about your own experience. It’s 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 you’re not trying to encourage her one way or another, or scare her, but that there’s 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 it’s not foolproof it’s 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 you’re there for her, and that the information she gets from you comes with love and without judgment.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201