DEAR ABBY: I have worked for the same company for 20 years. For the last eight years, I was part of an office book club, mostly because I was pressured regularly by the boss to participate. The members were mostly a clique of “mean girls.” I never felt a part of it or comfortable, but I pushed through the once-a-month meetings to keep the peace. When COVID-19 sent everyone home to work the past two years, the book club was over, or so I thought, hoped and prayed. As things are loosening up now, though, the pressure is mounting again. I do not want to return to that routine, but the powers that be don’t seem to accept any excuse or reason. After 24 months of freedom, forcing me back into it is causing great anxiety. What would you advise me to say or do to be left out of this without antagonizing the boss? – Wanna-Be-Dropout
DEAR WANNA-BE-DROPOUT: If you really feel your job is in jeopardy if you refuse to participate in the book club, start looking for other employment. Tell your boss you are no longer interested in participating because reading those books interferes with your personal time and, since the COVID-19 disruption, you have developed other interests. Then suggest another person be chosen if a quorum is required.
DEAR ABBY: The letter signed “Redo in the East” (June 7), from the lady who wanted to rewrite her husband’s rushed obit, caught my attention. For 18 years I was part of an American Legion Honor Guard, during which time we did more than 900 funerals. I also read the deceased veterans’ obituaries. Because of this experience, I constantly advise people to write their own obit. After all, who knows the most about them? This accomplishes two things: First, it greatly reduces the stress on those trying to write one under difficult conditions. Second, it ensures the accuracy of the information in it. I wrote mine 20 years ago. Of course, it needs updating, but upon my demise there will be only a few blanks to fill in and it’s ready to go. – Veteran in Virginia
DEAR VETERAN: Thank you for the service you have so generously provided all these years, and for the sage advice you have shared with my readers today.
DEAR ABBY: I recently stayed in a historical inn, which had very thin walls. An occupant in the adjoining room sneezed. I heard it and wondered: “Should I say ‘bless you’?” The sneeze came in the midst of conversation I had respectfully tried to avoid overhearing, but which was clearly audible. My thought was to ignore the sneeze so as not to intrude on their privacy. An office mate believes I should have responded to the sneeze. Your thoughts would be appreciated. – Being Polite in the Midwest
DEAR BEING POLITE: I agree with your office mate. If you had responded to the sneeze, it would have alerted your neighbors that their conversation wasn’t necessarily private, which would have done them a favor.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.