Avoiding a wild workplace romance


Advice | Ask Annie

Dear Annie: I never thought I’d write to you, but I have no one else to ask. I work part time as a customer service representative. Like me, all of my co-workers are mostly retired women except for one man who is our age, “John.” He’s been in our department for about two years. A year ago, he began having a friendship, for lack of a better word, with the only 30-something woman in our department. He divorced his wife of 40-plus years and moved in with “Mary” and her husband. The relationship between Mary and this older man has become more intimate and secretive. We’ve all just kept our distance.

Last summer, Mary and her husband maxed out their credit cards to build a basement apartment in their home for John. Mary’s husband used to visit her at work often and bring her coffee, but he stopped doing that months ago. According to Mary, all he does is work long hours and then come home and sleep. I have known Mary and her husband since they were kids, and this doesn’t sound like him.

Yesterday at work I noticed John on a web-page of a bank account (on a shared computer!), and I realized it was Mary’s account. He spent hours surfing around her bank account, minimizing it during lunch or when helping customers. I eventually asked him what he was doing, and he said he was paying bills online. I don’t know if he was paying Mary’s bills or his own out of her account, but I was horrified.

What do I do, if anything? This 60-something man has wedged himself between a young married couple and is taking over their lives. I don’t care what Mary does, but I’m concerned about her husband. Suggestions? — Co-Worker Conundrum

Dear Co-Worker Conundrum: Your concern is understandable. It’s also misplaced. Whatever bizarre love triangle these three have going, it’s between them.

Now, that being said, you mentioned that you’ve known Mary’s husband since he was a kid. You might reach out to him as a friend, just to see how he’s doing. Don’t ask him about the situation with his wife and John. Keep the conversation general and light.

Lastly, should you feel the (understandable) urge to gossip with others about all this, bite your tongue until the feeling passes.

Dear Annie: When I read Mary W.’s letter about her having trouble holding a knife and fork because of rheumatoid arthritis, I wondered if she had ever been treated by a rheumatologist. There are now so many wonderful medicines for rheumatoid arthritis that not only reduce or eliminate the pain but also slow or stop the progression of the damage caused by it.

At age 53, I was in severe pain and could barely move because of rheumatoid arthritis. I was referred to a rheumatologist who had me virtually pain-free in a very short time. I am now 74 and have, with continuous treatment, been able to enjoy the last 21 years with very little or no pain from rheumatoid arthritis and with no restriction of movement. While not everyone will have the same results that I did, I urge them to see a rheumatologist for the best care available. — William B.

Dear William B.: It’s wonderful to hear of people managing their rheumatoid arthritis, which can be such a painful inflammatory disorder. I wholeheartedly second your advice to seek out a rheumatologist. Additionally, it might be helpful for people to investigate dietary triggers that exacerbate symptoms. I’ve heard from some folks who have greatly reduced their RA symptoms after adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into their diets and reducing dairy consumption.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.