Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Perky Coworker May Set Inappropriate Tone

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I work in what most people would consider a downbeat field. The way most people understand what we do is when I say we’re the real life “Sunshine Cleaners”. There are three teams that get dispatched to take care of homes and businesses either where something horrible has happened, been lived in by hoarders or old people who have died or been moved to nursing homes, or there’s been bad water, fire, or smoke damage.

When people call in for our services, they are often at a real low point, and so we treat them with care and respect.

The new employee has started like all of the rest of us did, manning the phones and getting to know about dispatching, billing, and supplies management while she takes the training our company requires before sending anyone out on a job.

She is a fast learner, and seems both smart and friendly, all of which make her a good addition to the company. The problem is, she is so cheerful and perky that it seems wrong to have all that brightness answering the phone and dealing with people in really rough shape.

I’ve said something about it to the boss, but since he’s happy to have someone who is so promising in every other way, he seems willing to overlook her perkiness, and will sometimes jump on the phones as soon as they ring so the current or potential clients don’t have to be greeted by all that sunshine.

Don’t you think it comes off as unprofessional to have so much upbeat energy coming at you when you’re in deep s

t or emotionally a wreck? --- NEED SUNGLASSES AT WORK

DEAR NEED SUNGLASSES AT WORK: That your boss steps in to grab the phones implies he’s aware some work could be needed in this area with the new staff member. So, if he’s not having trouble with her, and if she’s doing well otherwise, why not let him take care of it? He may be getting ready to move her on to responsibilities more suited to her sunny disposition.

I have to admit, though, I can’t help but wonder how she’ll do when faced with the more gruesome cleaning jobs if they’re in her future.

Need advice? Please send your questions to Someone Else’s Mom at