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Q: I am having trouble with a co-worker who is now sitting right across from me in a cubicle. She just moved to our department two weeks ago, and it has been the worst two weeks of my working life.
She is a right wing Christian and I am an agnostic lesbian. She made it very clear the first day that she didn’t want to hear anything about my “alternative life style” because what I am doing is sinful. She said that we would get along just fine if I keep my life to myself. Well I am not about to. She talks about her husband and family, and I talk about my girlfriend and family. She got angry with me for not keeping my mouth shut, saying she just doesn’t want to hear about my life. I said if I couldn’t talk about my life I didn’t want to hear about hers, so now we sit across from each other not talking.
She still lets me know what she thinks about my life by calling her friends and telling them all about me and what I am putting her through. Then the other day, she started talking about religion, and I told her I didn’t believe any of it. In fact I think it is stupid to believe in Christianity or any other organized religion because no one knows for sure what the answer is. Now she has started playing her Christian music on her radio and tapes and she has brought in all kinds of crosses and other Christian things to adorn her desk. I used to like coming to work and now I hate it. My boss says we are both adults and need to work it out. What do I do? I can’t afford to quit or lose my job?
From Cubicle Hell
A: Since your boss isn’t willing to intervene, it is up to the two of you to see if you can come up with a working arrangement that doesn’t make you both miserable. My guess it that she isn’t having a good time, either, with how things are between the two of you. Let your boss know you are doing everything you can to make this working arrangement work.
See if your coworker will have a dialogue about the situation, and how it makes both of you feel. Perhaps you can find ways to coexist that is more tolerable for the both of you. If that doesn’t work, perhaps you can get ear phones and play your own music so you don’t have to hear her conversations or music?
You may also want to start looking for other places in the company where you might be able to transfer to or looking for a job outside your company. But the problem with these two strategies is that you will find people like your co-worker everywhere. It’s better to find ways to co-exist. Good Luck!
Boyfriend breakup results in nasty cat custody fight
Q: My ex-boyfriend “Charles” and I split up three weeks ago. We were together for four years. During that time, we got a cat named, “Harold.” Charles didn’t, in the beginning, really want a cat; it was totally my idea. Charles just gave into me about it, which I appreciated at the time. Over time, Charles grew to love Harold as I do.
In the split up, I left our apartment because it was in Charles’ name to begin with. Besides, it was OK with me that I be the one to leave. The day that I left, I was moving out all of my stuff so I didn’t take Harold with me. I was planning on coming back for him. We hadn’t discussed where Harold would live. I guess I just thought since I was the one who wanted Harold initially, he was my cat.
So, the next day I went back for Harold and got him. Charles was at work at the time.
That night Charles called me accusing me of taking “his” cat. That’s when we got into a heated argument about who gets Harold. We are still arguing about it, even though I have Harold now. Harold must sense how upsetting this is as he is upset all the time. He’s starting to be a very naughty cat. I know that it is because he’s upset with my distress over Charles and my mental state regarding custody of him. Charles has threatened to take legal action.
I want to do the best for Harold and I think I love him more that Charles does. Charles just wants to hurt me. What should I do?
Who Gets Harold
A: In my opinion, if you really want to do the best for Harold, you let him go back to his home. Cats are very attached to the place where they live; they have a hard time when they are moved to another place. That may be why Harold is being “naughty.” Perhaps if you offer to give Harold back to Charles, Charles will agree to give you visiting privileges. At some point, you might want to get another cat.
Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The “Dear Jody” column appears weekly.