Your Work-Life Advisor

Balancing your life and your work can be difficult. If you don’t work, you probably won’t eat, in which case you will die and won’t have any life! On the other hand, you can work so much you won’t have a life even while you’re living. Your Work-Life Advisor is here to help people like you, several of whom wrote in with questions this month.

“When you touch the screen, it leaves a little oily fingerprint!”


Dear Work-Life Advisor:

My wife who I will call “June” is in “network security.” I don’t pretend to understand what she does, but every job she gets they take advantage of her. She works 12-hour days and is “on call” all the time to fix computer bugs, even in the middle of the night.

I have heard about a French fad called the “enlarge a twah” in which a man and a woman expand their relationship to take on a third person who makes their love life more fulfilling. I am wondering whether this is legal in the U.S., as I feel “June” is putting her work before her life.

E.J. “Bud” Mack, Cape Girardeau, Mo.


Dear Bud:

I believe the term you are referring to is menage a trois, which means a mixture of three people for job-sharing and romantic purposes. It is technically legal only in Louisiana, a state whose laws are based on the Napoleonic Code, but authorities in other states tend to look the other way when they see it, usually because it grosses them out. If you were to find another woman who is an expert in “network security” you could perhaps work out a graveyard shift arrangement so that each woman could alternate with you in bed. Bonne chance!

“What this country needs is a thrifty and industrious working class!”


Dear Mr./Ms. Work-Life Advisor:

I have a really creepy old boss who is not good at motivating people. If you do something wrong he makes you stay until you get it right. This often makes me late for roller derby, which isn’t fair to the other girls as I am one of only three “blockers” on our team.

Last Friday I mentioned to my boss that people might appreciate him more if he used “carrots” instead of “sticks” around the office. He looked at me and said “Perhaps you’re right.” I was feeling pretty good about myself until Monday morning when he brought in a plate of sliced vegetables and a sort of ranch dressing dip and put it in the employee lounge.

Work-Life Advisor, I did not mean what I said literally. How can I get through to this man who is not “up to date” on a lot of the current workplace slang?

Evelyn Wanamaker, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Yum — sort of.


Dear Evelyn:

What a wonderful work-life balance you have achieved! I admire young women like you who refuse to be “pigeonholed” into a dead-end job when there are so many fulfilling activities available outside of the office!

That said, I think your boss will admire your leadership qualities and perhaps even consider you for a promotion if you will spell out in a straightforward, bullet-point memo what you are seeking instead of carrots–chips, honey-roasted peanuts, pork rinds or whatever. There is nothing that contributes to workplace satisfaction like high-salt, high-fat snackfoods instead of boring vegetables.


Hello Work-Life Advisor:

I have been a long-time reader of your column but have never felt the need to write–until now. My wife is very domineering and is always telling me I shouldn’t stay late at work, I should be home with her and the kids. She says “Don’t be a Billy Big-Deal–you have a family!” That is all well and good but I am a firefighter and cannot just leave my job when she calls and says she wants to go to book group to discuss “Love’s Tender Heartstrings” or some other mushy novel.

Secret Odd Fellows initiation rites.


Last night she called me on my cell phone just as I was wrapping up a talk on proper installation of smoke detectors to the Odd Fellows Club to say she was going out for a glass of wine with her friend Susan, could I come home and watch the kids. Ms. Work-Life Advisor, I became really flustered and completely forgot my conclusion, which was a good joke I had heard about a priest, a rabbi and a lady snake-charmer.

How do I get my wife to understand that while family is important I have to put food on the table and this sometimes entails community outreach efforts at night?

Wayne Goshen, Chillicothe, Ohio


Dear Wayne:

I think your wife is on to you–you have your eye on that big promotion to Fire Marshall! Every housewife needs a break from her little carpet-creepers every now and then, however, and oftentimes all that is required is a “heads-up” so that your wife can know when to put dinner on the table. Just a simple phone call–“Honey, I am in the middle of getting an orange tabby cat down from this tree, there we go, nice kitty. I’ll be home in about ten minutes.” You’ll find your wife in a much better mood when she can plan confidently around your schedule.


Ms. Work-Life Advisor:

I believe it is my husband Bud who wrote the first letter in today’s column, but I will deal with him later. As Bud says, I am constantly on call from work with problems caused by users of System A who receive errors that Remote System B does not accept their yadda-yadda whatevers. Frankly, after 10 p.m., I couldn’t care less. I have started bring small bags of potato chips to bed–usually one barbecue and one sour cream and onion–and whenever I get one of these “urgent” calls I open the bag, crumple it and say “Sorry–we’ve got a bad connection–I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” Then I hang up and eat the chips.

Bud says it is unsanitary to bring chips to bed as it will attract cockroaches. I have to laugh at that one–you should see the den on Tuesday morning after he stays up late watching Monday Night Football.

My question, Work-Life Advisor, is this: I would not be buying the 5-bag snackpack of chips if not for my job-related “issues.” I would be buying the large economy size at a much lower cost-per-chip. Can I deduct the difference as an employment-related expense such as tools, union dues, and mileage?

June Mack, Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Employees pretending to love their jobs.


Dear June:

I believe you are engaging in a little bit of “deception,” both of yourself and your company. There is no need for you to eat potato chips to duck phone calls–people avoid each other every day, all day long, eating healthy foods such as carrots and celery. I would suggest you contact Evelyn Wanamaker of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, as she has a tray of left-over crudites that may still be fresh.

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Take My Advice–I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”

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