Dear Amy: In a previous column, "Disappointed" relayed a strange statement that her (married male) friend and neighbor made about wanting to "kiss her face" all over when the pandemic ended. It occurred to me that all of the isolation and masking has been having a really weird effect on some married men.
Our youngest daughter works at a local outdoor business, helping customers and doing hard, sweaty, manual labor. Almost every day she tells us about the inappropriate behavior of some male customers. They get way too close to her and make extremely flirtatious or suggestive comments to her with their wives standing just a couple of feet away.
It’s so weird; we’ve wondered if these men are so desperate for attention from being cooped up at home.
Perhaps they think their mask prevents their wife from hearing what they are saying. The wives clearly do hear it, but don’t react, which is also strange. These men may also feel that they can intimidate female employees more during this time, because they desperately need their jobs and won’t make a fuss. Social isolation is not a good thing. — Mad Mom
Dear Mad Mom: Yes, I suppose it is possible that isolation and mask-wearing has prompted strange behavior (not confined to men, surely). I don’t know how your daughter can discern whether these men’s wives really do hear what they are saying to her, but she should speak up if any customers are sexually inappropriate toward her.
Salespeople are expected to put up with a lot of challenging behavior (from the merely obtuse, to the outright rude) but no service worker should have to tolerate suggestive or sexual comments directed at them. I sincerely hope that management has her back regarding this, but even if she does not take up this issue with management, if a customer is standing too close to her, she should say, "Sir, you are standing too close. Could you please step back three paces?" (People sometimes forget to maintain distance, especially outside, or they may have a hard time hearing someone who is trying to speak through a mask, so they instinctively step closer.)
And if a customer makes a sexually inappropriate comment to her, she might say, "That is inappropriate. I’m going to look for male salesperson to assist you. Hopefully, you will not use this same language with him."
Dear Amy: I consider myself to be an easy-going, "low-maintenance" person. I also pride myself on being considerate and expect the same from close friends and family.
Here is my quandary: I recently celebrated my birthday, and year after year, my husband’s brother and sister neglect to send me any well-wishes.
This is despite the fact that we are quite close. They also have been told repeatedly when it is, and have reportedly "put it in their calendars."
My husband reminds them after the fact, at which point I get belated wishes and apologies, which I have accepted in the past.
In addition, both of their birthdays are within weeks of mine, and I always send them a text wishing them a great day.
I am trying to "rise above" this, but am at the point where I want to bag it and stop trying on this front. I hate being petty, but this is hurtful. — Forgotten Birthday Girl
Dear Forgotten: When people behave in a consistent fashion, year after year, the fact that you continue to expect these people to behave differently says much more about you than it does about them.
Dialing your own expectations down to zero would truly be the gift that keeps on giving.
Many people don’t enjoy birthdays — their own, or others’. This day seems overloaded with expectations, and the simplest birthday greeting can induce social paralysis.
Behaving well should not be transactional, but if it makes you feel like a loser to acknowledge their birthdays, then stop. I suspect that your in-laws might actually be relieved to fall off of your birthday-greeting list.
Dear Amy: In your response to "Frustrated," you noted that her spying and continuously checking her husband’s phone was actually triggering more anxiety.
I had that exact experience. I was constantly sneaking a look at my wife’s phone (we had trust issues). One day I decided to try to stop looking. I felt much better. It turns out the act of spying made me need to spy more. — Happier
Dear Happier: Good for you!