Chicago, IL

#1 Jan 5, 2013
DEAR AMY: Iím a part-time employee for my brotherís small business. He recently offered me a new full-time position in the office.

I get along with everyone at the company. One employee and I have become friends. We are both women about the same age, and we have a lot in common.
I received an e-mail from my brother reprimanding me for talking with her for longer than he felt was appropriate. He added up the time we spent talking on a particular day and said we spent an hour conversing. He asked me not to make a regular habit of it.

It bothers me that I need to be told how to act with someone who is my own age. The fact that he did this in an e-mail several days later also bothers me. I also doubt he mentioned anything to the other employee, because Iím his sister and itís easier for him to direct his anger at me.

I agree that on that particular day it was an hourlong conversation, but we were discussing the recent school shooting and it was a hard day.

I havenít responded to the e-mail yet. How do I handle this situation the next time Iím in the office? I donít want to make him sound like a jerk; I know she likes working there, and I donít want to upset her.-- Social Sister

DEAR SISTER: It can be challenging to work for family members, especially if you donít recognize whoís the boss. In this situation you should forget that this man is your brother and think of him as your employer.

I think itís reasonable for an employer to ask a prospective full-time employee to curb time-spending behavior that he has observed at the office. Remember that when you spend an hour talking to a fellow employee, your brother loses two hours of productivity ó yours and the other employee engaged in conversation with you.

You should assume that your brother is trying to lay out his expectations with clarity before you start. This saves both of you the embarrassment of having him call you on the carpet while at work.

If you donít think you can behave professionally and accept your brotherís position as your boss, then you should not work for him. Sit down with him before you start the job. Acknowledge and face the special challenge of working for him.

You donít need to discuss this with your friend at work; you only need to reasonably modulate your own behavior.

DEAR AMY: I have been divorced for over a year after being married for 26 years. I started dating someone who I really like spending time with. She is divorced and receives child support and alimony for one more year, and only works about 15 hours a week.

I have worked two jobs since my divorce so I could keep our old house and still give money to my children, who are in college. I work about 55 hours a week.

Since she doesnít have to go to work most days until 1 p.m. or later, my girlfriend will get up at 11 and averages 10 hours of sleep a night.

She expects me to hang out with her until after 10 p.m., when I have to get up at 4:30 a.m. for the first of my two jobs. She rarely pays for our dates, but spends a lot of money on herself. What do you think of this?-- Hard Worker

DEAR WORKER: You seem to think this is about a scheduling issue. I think this is about values. You and your girlfriend seem to have opposing values. You deserve to be with someone who, even if she doesnít share your work ethic at least respects it.

DEAR AMY: Regarding how to tell someone they have body odor, hereís how a friend of mine handled it with his employees:ďThere must be something wrong with the laundry detergent or dry cleaner you are using because a chemical reaction between your clothing and the cleaning fluids is causing your clothes to smell badly.Ē-- Sweet Smelling

DEAR SWEET: This works, as long as the person is able to take the hint.

Since: Mar 09

West Palm Beach, FL

#2 Jan 5, 2013
It's amazing how much better "Amy's" answers are on the weekends.

L1: This is why you don't poop where you eat.

L2: Break up with her. It sounds like the differences aren't worth it.

L3: I don't know how this would go over... it seems like it would come across way too thought out.

“Where is Tonka?”

Since: Feb 09

Neda, stay with me! Charlie

#3 Jan 5, 2013
Team J_M_W

“reign in blood”

Since: May 09

Braidwood, IL

#4 Jan 5, 2013
1- Just because your brother is the boss doesn't mean you should be allowed to waste an hour of productivity because you want to yap with a co worker.

2- She sounds like she might be a little clueless about how to support herself. What's she gonna do when the alimony stops next year? Rely on you to support her? Have a frank discussion with her. If she's willing to do more to support herself, this relationship can possibly work. If not, than not.

3- This letter stinks.

Plant City, FL

#5 Jan 5, 2013
1: I would never work for family, especially my family! And they can't talk to each other face-to-face? Annoying.
Listen, if he has time to add up her talking, then he's not that busy either. You can find time to talk--the final thing is does her work get done on time and well?

2: Sounds like a lazy louse who probably didn't do much around her own house, and she's getting alimony so she didn't work--her life's career apparently.
Ditch her and she'll learn to live without alimony soon or--I predict--find another guy to support her.

3: Inconsiderate, incompetent, and/or oblivious people NEVER freaking get hints...what they will get is irritated when you use your words, as though YOU are the offensive one.
I hate people.

Salinas, CA

#6 Jan 5, 2013
LW1: I've had friendly conversations with co-workers many times, but I don't think I have ever had an HOUR long conversation. Your brother was right to call you on it, as any non-related employer would have. Also, you could be endangering your co-worker's job as well as yours. My co-workers and I take a 35-minute walk @ lunch and do our conversing then, not during business hours.

LW2: You "really like spending time with her" but you resent the fact that she works only 15 hours per week because you are putting in long hours. I don't know how old her children are or what kind of work she does, but perhaps the cost of after-school care for her kids would greatly offset her salary. Your circumstances are different. I say if you enjoy her company, tell her plainly that you cannot stay up as late as she does. If you cannot afford to pay for dates, either ask her to go dutch sometimes or think of fun, inexpensive things to do together. However, you two should not move in together or marry until both of you are in a better place in terms of both finances and work/life balance.

Chicago, IL

#7 Jan 5, 2013
LW1: "It bothers me that I need to be told how to act with someone who is my own age."

Jebus. The fact that she is your "own age" is COMPLETELY irrelevant. What *is* relevant is that you're yakking on company time for an hour w/a co-worker. You're TOTALLY taking advantage of your brother. Would you do the same thing if your employer *weren't* your brother? Well yeah, you probably would. You're completely clueless, and your brother should fire your dumb ass.

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