DEAR HARRIETTE: My car broke down last week. I had been on the fence about buying myself a new one, so I decided to go through with it. I have to wait two weeks before the car is detailed and ready, so I figured I would have my housekeeper drive me around in her car.
It's been a few days now, and we've been spending so much time together. At first I was excited to get to know her better, but now she is curt with me. I pay her for the hours she is driving me to appointments, dates and shopping. I want to ask her what's wrong, but feel like I might be prying into her life. I know I wouldn't want my employer asking me personal questions. How can I get her to be kinder to me without breaking the boundary between employer and employee? -- Chauffeur Woes, Cincinnati
DEAR CHAUFFEUR WOES: Next time you get into the car with your housekeeper, begin the conversation by thanking her for helping you out during this transition time while you are waiting for your car. Then pivot to your direct question. Tell her that you have noticed that she seems to be upset about something. Ask her if you have done anything to offend her. Listen carefully to her response. There is a chance her change of mood is because of you. If not, ask her if she would like to talk about what's on her mind and if you can be of help.
If she shares aspects of her personal life, you can react to her story carefully without prying too much. Also, be mindful not to bring up her personal business again. Let her do so if she chooses. If you can't figure out what the problem is, let her know that the reason you are asking is because you have noticed that she seems to be irritated about something, and it makes you uncomfortable.