DEAR NATHAN: I’m a secretary who happens to make really good coffee. An employee who works in the building likes my coffee and has made himself comfortable at my desk in the morning before he starts work and afterward, before his second job.
I am not comfortable with this. He plants himself at my desk, and I find myself having to work around him. He has become a fixture in my office and I need it to stop. How can I go about this without hurting his feelings? — NOT HIS BARISTA
DEAR NOT HIS BARISTA: Before we begin, I want to take a second to congratulate you on your coffee skills. While you may not be “his barista”, you must have the skills to make it in the coffee game. Is there some sort of secret that makes your coffee so magical that it has turned you into the queen of caffeine? I prefer French Press coffee, so if you could make coffee that good without taking the time and effort to freshly press that coffee I would love to know how.
On to your problem. This guy is what is known as a “coffee leach”. It seems that he is not hanging around you for your sparkling personality, but rather for your incomparable brewing skills. If I were you, I would not worry about hurting his feeling. I would tell him, “Oh, you want coffee? WELL TOO BAD BUCKEROO! THIS AIN’T NO STARBUCKS, SO TAKE A HIKE, BUSTER!” The Buckeroo and Buster are very important for getting your point across.
Since you are more concerned about his feelings, there are three options. First, you can stop making good coffee. After 10 or 15 terrible cups of coffee, he might leave you alone.
Option two is the most passive aggressive. Every day, find a Starbucks coupon and leave it on his desk. Make sure he knows it’s from you. If he is bright (this is a big if), he will realize that his coffee girl is constantly referring him to a new coffee place and then he will leave you alone.
The last solution is the most drastic one: just poison the coffee. You don’t have to poison it enough to kill him, just enough to make him incredibly sick. As poisoning may be frowned upon in the state you live in, check with law enforcement before using this option.
Good luck with your coffee problems,
P.S. I have just been informed that poisoning is not just frowned upon, but actually is considered felony in EVERY state. You probably should ignore that third idea.
DEAR NATHAN: Is there some sort of etiquette regarding inquiring about someone’s country of origin?
While making polite conversation with a customer in my retail shop, I noticed she had an accent and asked where she was from. She became very evasive and seemed offended that I had asked. She actually refused to answer my question.
I tried to recover from the awkward situation, but I can’t help but feel I insulted her somehow. Was I wrong to ask? — FRIENDLY RETAILER IN KANSAS CITY
DEAR FRIENDLY RETAILER: I think much of this depends on the way the question was presented. “Say, that is a lovely accent. Where is that from?” is guaranteed to get a better reaction than “Hey! Where you from? That ain’t how people around here talk!”
As a whole, I do not think you were wrong to ask. In the future, maybe you should lead into it and feel out how they are feeling about the entire thing. To help, I have completed a few questions and comments for this situation. The way the accented one responds may inform your decision on asking about their accent:
-“Man, accents are crazy, right?”
-“You know what’s awesome? Meeting people from foreign countries! I love it!”
-“Have you ever seen a globe before? There sure are a lot of different places in the world. I think that is very neat.”
If you are sure that customer does not want to discuss their accent, but you must know where they’re from, just ask for their ID when they check out. If they refuse, call Homeland Security. At some point, you will find out where they are from.
Happy accent hunting,
DEAR NATHAN: My girlfriend loses her keys, wallet, credit cards or iPad every day. I have suggested ways to avoid losing her keys. For example — always use the same pocket in her purse or put them in a bowl by the door. She doesn’t do it. I think it is to spite me.
She has now become resentful that I have become impatient about it. I’m frustrated because this is something that can easily be fixed, and I’m tired of searching for 20 minutes for whatever she has misplaced. What can I do? — BEYOND FRUSTRATED IN L.A.
DEAR BEYOND FRUSTRATED: For this answer, I will turn it over to my wife:
Oh, you want your girlfriend to put things in a more convenient place for you? Is she inconveniencing you by having to find her possessions? That must be REALLY rough on you! I can’t even imagine the hardships you have had to endure while she tried to find her keys! It’s a good thing you were there to offer suggestions on what she should do with those keys.
For future reference, WE DON’T LIKE TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO! BACK OFF AND LEAVE HER ALONE! IF SHE WANTS TO LOSE HER KEYS EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE, IT IS HER PREROGATIVE! YOU AREN’T IN CHARGE OF FIXING EVERY SINGLE ISSUE YOUR GIRLFRIEND HAS, YOU CHAUVINISTIC MORON! If I were her, I would hide YOUR keys and then, when YOU’RE looking, I would stand there saying, “Oh look! The king of keys seems to be having a bit of trouble! Are you having trouble, king of keys?”
And, no, she is not doing it to spite you, you narcissistic turd!
Apparently she feels strongly about this.
Good luck spending the rest of your relationship silently waiting while your girlfriend finds her keys,