Dear Amy: My coworkers and I are employed by a doctor in a small successful practice. Including the doctor, there are eight staff members.
He bought the practice several years ago from our former boss.
Our former boss was generous and of a different generation. He lived within his means, was not extravagant, and didn’t try to compete with his peers.
Our current employer is of a younger generation, lives in one of the more affluent neighborhoods, and has only given us raises when we bring it up to him as a group.
He is very generous when it comes to bonuses, but bonuses are not something that can be counted on.
The doctor has recently invited staff and their families to a lake house owned by his parents.
The doctor will be there with his wife and five children.
The problem we’re having is that he has asked that we all bring a dish to share and make this a pot-luck style affair.
None of us has had a raise since January of 2022, and that was our first raise in two years.
Many of us are having difficulty putting food on our own tables, let alone bringing a dish to a party with enough food for possibly 20 to 25 people to sample.
Should we simply decline the invitation?
Should we ask him if he will be supplying a main dish?
Are we acting like spoiled children for thinking that if he’s the one throwing the party, then he should be the one to supply the food (such as our former employer did)? We welcome your advice.
— Potluck Party Pooper
Dear Potluck: Giving your employer the best-possible benefit of the doubt, I’ll brand him as “clueless.”
The best dish for you to bring to him would be some enforced clarity about this event. Call it a “get-a-clue casserole.”
You should ask him to clarify what he is expecting for staffers to contribute to this company party.
Let’s say that he responds: “A dish to share with 25 guests would be great.”
That’s when you can say, “I assume you don’t realize that many of us are having trouble making ends meet. Feeding so many other people creates a hardship right now. I appreciate the gesture you’re making to host this, but unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.”
Alternatively, since you have a history of advocating together as a group, you could all approach him together.
Dear Amy: My husband and I became friends with a couple that my husband met through work.
We have been back and forth to each other’s homes for meals, birthdays, etc. The guys get along fine.
My issue is that the wife has zero interest in my life, interests, or children.
The conversation is always about her.
She will ask something and as soon as I start to give an answer, she redirects the conversation back to her.
The relationship is draining for me emotionally and I will often avoid answering the phone or make excuses for why we can’t get together.
How can I exit this totally one-way relationship?
— Wanting Out
Dear Wanting Out: Your husband met a couple through his work. The guys have become friends.
You are not obligated to become friends with the woman, just because your genders match up.
It’s rewarding and convenient to have friends where you match up as couples, but this has not worked out for you, and so you’ll have to truncate the relationship.
You can say, “I think it’s great that our husbands get along so well, but I don’t think a friendship has really gelled between the two of us. I can tell you’re not really interested in me and — no hard feelings, but I’m going to let everyone move ahead without me.”
Dear Amy: “Left Behind” was concerned about how to stay connected with her best friend, who was dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
When dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, a memory book of OLD photos can be useful, even if the person does not remember you.
On more than one occasion, my mother, who lived with us, would ask, “Do I know you?”
Sometimes, a simple “Yes — we are good friends.” is enough.
The person knows when they are loved.
More and detailed information can be upsetting.
Dear Ed: Looking at art books with photos or paintings can also prompt connections. Communicating with someone with dementia is a true exercise in surrender: You go with the flow — wherever they want to take you.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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