Dear Annie: My 41-year-old fiance, “Michael,” recently started a new job that requires some overnight travel. Last week while out of town, a 21-year-old female co-worker asked Michael’s help to put air in her tires. He got in her car and they drove together to a gas station. This week, while out of town again, he and the same co-worker texted and phoned each other a few times, which I found disturbing.
When I confronted him, he became defensive and said he did nothing wrong. I explained it was inappropriate to be riding in a female co-worker’s car and for the two of them to call each other. Even if it was completely innocent, there is always the possibility of an accusation of sexual harassment or that other co-workers will think negatively of him.
What bothers me more is that he doesn’t see how inappropriate it is. He says I have blown it out of all proportion and there is nothing further to discuss.
Is this just my insecurity surfacing, or do I have a legitimate concern? – Worried in Virginia
Dear Virginia: Both. The fact that a female co-worker asked a male co-worker to help her fix a tire is perfectly understandable, and it’s not a stretch that he would accompany her to the gas station in her car. You are right that these things can be misinterpreted and that Michael puts his job at risk if he continues to behave in a way that others believe is questionable. However, we aren’t convinced anything untoward has been going on. The “evidence” of misconduct is pretty flimsy. Say nothing more, but keep an eye on the situation if it bothers you.
Dear Annie: I just lost my son to alcoholism. He was 55 years old and for five years had been progressively drinking himself to death. We were totally unaware. His multitude of friends and business associates knew he had an alcohol problem, but didn’t realize the gravity of the situation and didn’t think to notify me, his father.
My son was divorced, had no children and lived alone. I’ve since been told that I couldn’t have done much unless he was willing to admit he was an alcoholic and wanted to quit. My friends tell me not to blame myself. But who else is there? – California
Dear California: There is no blame to be had. Your son had a disease for which there is no cure, only management, but he either didn’t recognize the problem, or didn’t have the wherewithal to stay sober. Even if you knew everything about alcoholism, you could not have prevented this from happening. Self-recrimination can be part of the grieving process. Please get some short-term counseling so you can come to terms with this. Our condolences.