Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a co-worker who wears a very thick, oversized metal bracelet on her arm. Whenever she writes or moves around the mouse on her computer, the bracelet hits the top of her desk, and it makes a loud clanging sound. Given how much she moves her arm, this clanging happens dozens of times each day. Every time she does it, the sound of the clanging bracelet makes my skin crawl and my ears hurt. It greatly distracts me from being able to accomplish everything I need to in the course of a workday. I know I'm not the only person in my office who is irritated by the sound of her bracelet. They've all apparently tried drowning out the noise by using earplugs and iPods, tuning it out, all to no avail. My co-worker is a nice lady, and I'd like to ask her to remove the bracelet during work hours, but doing so would put her on the spot in front of the whole office and potentially humiliate her. But like I said, it's distracting me from getting my work done. Please give me some suggestions as to how to deal with this situation. -- Aching Ears and Losing Productivity, Washington, D.C.

DEAR ACHING EARS AND LOSING PRODUCTIVITY: Rather than sidestepping this woman, speak up. Tell her that the sound of her bracelet clanging constantly is terribly distracting. Ask her if she would take it off while she is working. She may not realize that she is causing a distraction.

If she does not respond favorably, speak to your direct supervisor and ask for support.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I asked my parents for a $30,000 interest loan to cover a loss with my home, which I am selling due to an unexpected job relocation. They offered to gift me $20,000 and said if I needed more I could borrow it later. I refused the gift, but they stood strong and said if I wanted the money, that was the deal. After I received the $20,000, I wrote them a very nice note thanking them, but I felt like I should do something else. I did borrow an additional $10,000. After my loan is paid off, what should I do? Take them on a short trip? I don't know what to do, but the note didn't seem like enough to me. Please help! -- Grateful, Racine, Mich.

DEAR GRATEFUL: What a blessing it is that your parents had the money to share with you and that they chose to give it to you with no strings attached. I see why you want to do something special for them. You could invite them on a vacation. You could buy them something that you believe they would appreciate. But more, you can demonstrate to them how much you love and appreciate them by living a good life and sharing it with them. Stay in touch with them. Let them know how your life is blossoming. Choose to come home to visit them as regularly as you can. Be an active presence in their life.