DEAR ABBY: I have a great job, get along with everyone I work with and go home at night happy, even when things get a little hectic. I love my job -- except for one thing.
A woman who works here is a constant downer. She constantly talks about how fat she is (she's overweight, and so am I), how ugly she is (she's not), how horrible her marriage is, how she won't live past 38, how her son won't live to be 18, and other negative things. In fact, all she has to say are negative things.
Whenever I try to interject something positive, she finds a way to turn it into a negative. We work with the public a lot, and she has run so many customers off with her negativity that we are losing money. No one will fire her because there is no one to replace her in our small town, but everyone is at their wit's end. We have all tried talking to her about it. What else can we do? -- READY TO EXPLODE IN WYOMING
DEAR READY: Aside from slipping "happy pills" into her morning coffee, nothing. (Only joking!) People sometimes call themselves fat, ugly, etc., because they hope the person they're talking to will contradict them and say, "No, you're not." In this case, your co-worker appears to be very depressed -- and with good reason.
I do have a suggestion, however, for the next time she makes a negative comment. Instead of trying to turn it around, agree with her. Say, "Yes, isn't it sad?" or "You're a saint," then change the subject. That may stop her.