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Feeling intimidated at work

By From page A9 | September 29, 2013

Dear Annie: I work for an institution of higher learning. Since getting hired five years ago, I have taken advantage of my surroundings to earn a degree that is directly related to my job.

After three years, my boss told me my degree is pretty much useless. And I didn’t get the promotion I had worked really hard for. It went instead to a guy with no degree who has been here less than a year. This incident, along with several others targeted at me, makes me feel like a victim of workplace bullying.

The sad part is that no one sees my boss as the problem. My co-workers alienate me, as well, fearing they will be targeted next. I was once an energetic and cheerful person with hopes and dreams. But I have changed because I have been too “job-scared” to reach out beyond human resources for help. I’m not sure whether I can get fired for doing so.

— Sick and Tired

Dear Sick: Complaining to human resources is not going to get you fired, but we can’t guarantee that your boss won’t find other, less-obvious reasons to get rid of you. If you can document instances of bullying or make a case for your boss singling you out, human resources should help you. Unfortunately, unless your boss is removed from his position as your supervisor, or you are transferred to another department, your situation may not improve. You now have a degree in your field. This may be a good time to look for another job where you can apply what you have learned.

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Dear Annie: Yesterday, I attended a funeral mass, and I observed the deceased’s 72-year-old niece checking her email on her iPhone. She was sitting between her older sister and me.

This woman still works full time and has a great deal of job pressure. I know from firsthand experience (more than 52 years) that she is extremely sensitive to criticism of any sort, especially from me.

I didn’t do anything at the time, but felt her actions were totally out of place. Should I have said something?

— Silent Observer

Dear Silent: No. The important thing was to maintain as much respect as possible. While it was rude of her to be using her phone during the mass, you were right to do nothing. Based on her level of sensitivity, speaking up might have created a scene that would have been more disruptive than her phone.

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Dear Annie: This is in response to “Burned by Family,” who was worried that her grandparents would share her wedding details and her home address with her unstable ex-husband.

I work in the wedding industry and have encountered many clients with similar problems. Your suggestion to send a handwritten invitation with the details omitted was spot-on. Arrange for a relative to pick up Grams and Gramps on the wedding day and ferry them to and from the festivities. This allows them to be present at the nuptials without oversharing information with the ex-husband.

But instead of having a friend act as security, my best advice is to hire professional security guards for her wedding and reception. In our city, off-duty police officers are routinely available for hire as guards. These security personnel will enforce any rules laid out by the client, and they also have the ability to detain or arrest unwelcome guests if they engage in criminal activities.

Experience has shown that would-be party crashers are much less likely to disobey an actual law enforcement officer as opposed to a private security person with limited authority. I wish her the best of luck for a lovely wedding day.

— Omaha, Neb.

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Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

— Creators Syndicate Inc.

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