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Posted on Sun, Feb 12, 2012 : 5 a.m.

Chatty boss's interruptions prevent work from being done

By Dear Abby


My boss, "Ms. M.," knows her stuff. She's supportive, flexible and communicates well about what's happening within the organization. However, she spends most of her time in my cubicle. She'll start out in her office and, 15 minutes later, slide into my cubicle to show me her kids' latest photos or insist my colleagues and I watch YouTube videos of her favorite entertainers.

This happens continually throughout the day. I have to work from home in the evenings to get anything done. I have actually used vacation time so I could finish a project without Ms. M.'s constant interruptions. I thought it was just me until I got sick last year and was out for several days. I got "hate" email from my colleagues because the boss was spending all her time in their cubicles!

Meanwhile, contracts don't get finalized, deadlines are missed, phone calls go unanswered and complaints pile up. When she gets heat from higher-ups, she'll work on the weekend to make things right. Then on Monday morning she'll call a staff meeting that lasts over an hour, and we must listen to her sour complaints and more YouTube videos from the weekend. It's maddening.

Ms. M. is like a female Nero fiddling while the department burns. I want to do my job during working hours. Any suggestions? -- TREADING WATER IN OHIO


I do have one. Because there is safety in numbers, everyone in the department who is affected by this problem should discuss it as a group with Ms. M's supervisor or boss. It appears Ms. M. is confusing her working relationships with those that are personal.


Five years ago, while substitute teaching, I met a man who was also a substitute teacher. We would often have lunch together in the school cafeteria. "Lou" told me he had been living with a woman, "Meg," for 12 years, but that she had begun developing Alzheimer's disease. Her sons planned on moving them into an assisted living facility.

Several months ago, Lou called and asked to take me to lunch. At lunch he said he is still living with Meg, but plans to move into a place of his own soon. He said he'd like to start seeing me on a regular basis. He gave me his home phone number, but said that if Meg answers, I should tell her it's the school calling him about a job.

I told him I'm not interested in seeing him until he is actually living on his own, but he keeps calling to get me to change my mind. My children and my friends tell me it would not be wrong to start seeing Lou because he's no longer actively involved with the woman. What's the right thing to do? -- LOOKING FOR ANSWERS IN FLORIDA


That you would have second thoughts about becoming involved with a man who asks you to lie to the woman he's been living with for 17 years shows a lot about your character. That he would ask you to do otherwise speaks not very flatteringly about his.

You appear to be someone with high standards and dignity. If you prefer to wait until Meg and Lou are no longer living together, I respect that. And if his interest in you is serious, he will respect it, too.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)