Ask Amy: It was a fun job until the bossy men took over
Dear Amy: I work at a food pantry in my small town. I have been volunteering since my retirement several years ago.
The other volunteers and I loved working there, stocking shelves, packing boxes, etc. We are mostly older women, and a few husbands have helped out with the heavier lifting chores.
The director has done a wonderful job assigning chores and running the organization, so we worked like a well-oiled machine.
In the last couple of years, several recently retired men joined us.
They all wanted to be the boss, changing the way things were done and in general added a lot of chaos to the environment with their foul language and arguing with each other.
The poor volunteer director, who puts in more hours running this organization than she would at a full-time job, is at her wits end.
Do other charities have this problem with pushy volunteers? How should this be handled?
The director is just a sweet little 70-year-old lady. Who knew there could be so much trouble with volunteers?
Dear Volunteer: My sense is that anyone who works with volunteers knows that it can be challenging.
I suggest that you go to the director and report your concerns. She might write up a simple “contract” for all volunteers to sign, outlining basic responsibilities and expectations, and noting that anyone using foul language or engaging in conflict will be in violation and will not be welcome back.
In terms of being bossed around by a bunch of newbies, I suggest that you find your own voice. You can respond politely, “Thanks for your input, but I’m going to use my own judgment here.”
Dear Amy: My husband of nine years has a secret Twitter account where he’s been sexting other people, complete with exchanged pictures and videos.
I confronted him about it and explained that it crossed boundaries I’m not comfortable with, and he promised he’d delete the account.
A few months later, I noticed he’d been avoiding intimacy with me (again) and learned that he was back at it. I confronted him again and he apologized profusely, promising that he really would stop. But he still hasn’t deleted the profile.
I feel betrayed and cheated on.
It turns out that he wasn’t just messaging other women, but also men. I asked him if that was something he wanted to explore. He’s been very accepting about my own previous involvement with women (I’m bisexual), but he assured me that wasn’t it.
I’m wondering if he’s possibly in denial about being bi-curious, due to his conservative family.
I know he wouldn’t be comfortable with me doing the same thing, and I have too much self-respect to stand for my boundaries being continually disregarded.
How do I let him know that although I love him unconditionally, I intend to stay firm on my boundaries?
Bi With a Guy
Dear Bi: You feel strongly about maintaining monogamy in your marriage. You and your husband agree that his secret sexting violates this monogamy bond. (His apologies and acceptance of your boundary indicates that he understands he has violated it.)
Addiction can be described as self-harming and harmful behavior that interferes with a person’s daily life, and in this sense, your husband is demonstrating that he has a sexual compulsion that is interfering with both of your lives (according to you, he avoids being intimate with you during periods when he is activating his secret Twitter account).
You sound like an open-minded person. You have invited your husband to be completely honest with you, yet he seems unable to accept and fully participate in this level of intimacy with you.
He would benefit from working with a counselor. He might be able to fully discuss his sexuality with someone he isn’t married to and currently contemplating betraying.
Because this crosses a line you maintain is inviolate, you might consider taking a trial separation while your husband works on his issues.
You can love your husband unconditionally and support his needs and concerns without living with him.
Dear Amy: “Going to Decaf” was a woman trying to figure out a way to discern whether her favorite barista was interested in women, generally, and interested in her, specifically.
You rightly pointed out that some servers are subjected to multiple “come-ons” every shift, but that there is nothing wrong in telling your favorite server that she is a “ray of sunshine!” Who knows – they might develop a nice friendship.
Keep Mine Half-Caf
Dear Half-Caf: Absolutely.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.