Howdy Campers! After a week off I am back and ready to answer all of your most pressing concerns. Let’s do this.
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I work for a very small family run business. Our office is a lot bigger than our current needs so in an effort to make money my boss has begun renting out office space to other small businesses or self-employed individuals. One of these people is a sweet, elderly man, a longtime mentor to my boss who is also kind and delightful, always having a story to tell or cookies for us that his wife baked. Here’s the issue, he apparently only rents space from us so he has a place to go to watch porn, because from the second he gets settled at his desk until the time he leaves, all I can hear are the telltale signs of porn noises coming from his cubicle, the volume cranked to ridiculous levels because his hearing is going bad. I don’t think he realizes that anyone else can hear it. I am currently the only person in that area of the office with him so it’s not directly affecting anyone but me, but I do feel uncomfortable. However I also don’t want to get this otherwise nice man kicked out of our office simply because he needs a place to get his jollies. How do I handle this? – Jeremy, Philadelphia
Realistically, what you SHOULD probably do is tell your boss. This is an HR nightmare waiting to happen. You say you’re the only one affected but I’m sure people come back to visit your cubicle sometimes right? Or maybe someone will walk back there to get some of grandpa dirty’s delicious homemade cookies and walk in on something the Keebler Elves wouldn’t approve of. In any case, while you may be ok with it, there will be plenty of people who discover this and will not be as accommodating as you seem to be. Plus, like you said, it’s just the two of you in your area, so what’s that mean? Will people think you’re a part of the little pervert party back there in the corner, swapping war stories and sharing links to “Busty Grape Stompers 13”? Gossip travels fast in office settings, you don’t want to be the target of it for something you were, at best, passively accepting of. No dammit, if you’re going to get in trouble for it you might as well dive down the filth hole yourself, go out with a blaze of glory, the two of you blasting “Assablanca” in glorious surround sound for everyone to hear.
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On the other hand, I understand how hard it is to want to kick out sweet old people from their well-lit porn shacks. They’re sweet! They’re old! (Imagine I just smacked you across the face) snap out of it! This guy knows what he’s doing. He’s reached the ripe old age of IDGAF and he’s enjoying the hell out of it. And I don’t blame him! When I’m that age I will drive a rascal scooter everywhere, fart loudly in public and finally get that face tattoo I’ve been dreaming of. But I digress.
This guy was a mentor of your boss, so telling said boss about it might not be the best solution. I know the expression is “Don’t shoot the messenger” but if some little pissant employee just told you your own personal hero was jerking it to “Choad Guzzlers 87”, you’d shoot the messenger, bury the body and destroy all evidence that he ever existed. So maybe we need a little more subtlety here. You’ve got two options here: 1. Walk up to him, slap him on the back and say “Listen gramps, (replace “gramps” with his real name, he is your elder, even if he is pants less. Show some goddamn respect.) I can appreciate what you’re doing back here, but I’m trying to get some work done and I’m worried the boss might overhear. Can you do me a favor and keep it down? Don’t worry, I’ll keep it between us.” If he still keeps up his little hobby after that, you have to get your boss involved. The other option is more subtle. Leave a pair of headphones on his desk either before work or after he has wiped down his desk for the night. Attach an unsigned card that reads. “Your music is a little loud, we hope these headphones will help you enjoy your time here in peace.” Neither avenue is bad, it just depends on how close you want to get to the splash zone. Whatever you decide to do though, don’t reach your hand in the cookie jar once he’s helped himself.
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Things have gotten serious with a guy I’m dating and he has been spending nights at my apartment more and more frequently. His work is much closer to my apartment than his so it’s been convenient for him to stay there. However, his schedule changes often and now he will be working a shift that starts in the middle of the day for the foreseeable future. The problem is, while things have been progressing nicely, I’m not comfortable yet with leaving him alone in my apartment for a few hours every morning. It just seems like too much, too soon. How can I explain this to him without making it sound like I don’t trust him or that I’m unhappy with the way our relationship is progressing? – Carla, New York
As with all relationships, especially ones this new, the key to them is honesty. Have you talked to him about this already? There’s a good chance he may feel exactly the same way you do about the situation. I know I never feel comfortable being a guest in someone’s home when the host isn’t there. I don’t think there is anything wrong with how you presented your concerns to me, and I urge you to present them to him in the same thoughtful manner. You obviously care about him or being afraid to hurt his feelings wouldn’t be an issue. There is nothing wrong with setting personal boundaries and if he does make a big deal about it, you might want to consider where this relationship is heading. But let’s assume he understands.
Changes like this can bring about seismic shifts in relationships. Right now you guys have gotten yourself on a bit of a schedule, him coming over most nights, both waking up and going about your day at roughly the same time, etc. Now you’ll have some decisions to make, and you both will have to be prepared to make some compromises. Does he stay over some nights and still gets up and leaves with you or does his new shift bring him home so late that those extra hours of sleep are desperately needed? Can you alternate and spend some nights at his place even though it’s not as convenient? If you’re kicking him out every morning, any chance you could make a date of it, get up a little earlier and both go get breakfast together? I’m not saying you should bend over backwards to accommodate him, nor should he, you. But when a convenient situation changes, it’s sometimes harder than people realize to make sure you keep the relationship growing and thriving. Present him with a few alternate ideas of how you imagine the situation playing out, be willing to listen to his thoughts on the subject and above all let him know that you really, really want to keep this relationship going. . . .But mama’s got to get to work right now so he needs to bounce.