DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I work in an office with four other people and we each have our own small office (not cubicles). I recently discovered that one of my co-workers has been keeping a pee jug under his desk in his office. I think this is absolutely revolting, disgusting and unhygienic. I don't know how to bring this up to our supervisor, but I feel like it needs to be dealt with because I just can't work in a place much longer with something like this happening. This particular co-worker is very lazy at his job. One of the worst parts of it is that I am in the office next to him, and with the walls being thin, I can hear him going in the jug. How do I handle this? -- Revolted, Winnipeg
Dear Revolted: Talk about sheer laziness and lack of class! Your supervisor should have been told immediately. Ask for a private talk with him or her and provide some details about when you first noticed and how you know what he's doing. Have you checked and seen the jug? If not, does the sound take a longer time than pouring liquid out of a pop bottle? Have you heard anything else through those thin walls, like a zipper on its way up or down? This is a serious accusation, so make sure it's true before you make a report.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I'm writing in response to Sympathy, No Comments, the letter about people asking personal questions. My daughter went through this for four years before finally becoming pregnant. The bottom line is never, ever ask a couple if/when they plan to have children. Either they are trying (and it's not working) or they are not trying because they choose not to have children -- either way, it's their business, not yours. Also, please don't ask couples when they are planning to have another child. My daughter is not able to have any more children for medical reasons. This question is very painful for her. -- Just Call Me Nana
Dear Nana: It's always good to have Nana on your side, and you might run a little interference if this happens in front of you. "Oh dear, that's a personal question. Let's talk about something else."
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: In response to Been on Both Sides, I agree the province's program For the Sake of the Children, as well as free family services mediation, is excellent and probably works for most couples, but unfortunately there are situations where one parent refuses to co-operate. Therapist and family law attorney William Eddy addresses these situations in his writings and found that since more flexible and cost-conscious people are resolving their divorces in mediation, attorney-assisted negotiation, or just by themselves these days, those cases remaining in litigation may be increasingly driven by personality disorders, and because their issues are internal, they will never be resolved in court.
I am also aware of a bill that would direct the courts in regards to divorce to make equal-shared parenting the presumptive arrangement in the best interests of the child except in proven cases of abuse or neglect. -- Thinking of the Children, Winnipeg
Dear Thinking: Such a bill could be good in many cases as long as there are equal parenting skills and closeness to both parents, but that's not always the way it is. In cases where one parent does most of the parenting already, and the kids are much closer with that parent, those children may not want a 50/50 arrangement. And many children of divorce don't want to be shunted back and forth every few days, or every week, or whatever is worked out between the parents.
Kids need more say than this change would imply, if that's who we're really worried about. A lot of stepmoms or stepdads are going to end up being the alternate parent in cases where the bio-parent is off at work and unable to take full part in the 50/50 back-and-forth arrangement. They are not often as bonded to the kids as their natural parent and may have kids of their own to look after, whom they may prefer.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6.