Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Employee Doesn't Want to Participate in Events

DEAR HARRIETTE: We are having several events to celebrate Black History Month at my job. That’s all OK, I guess, but I don’t really want to participate. This is not because I am racist. I don’t participate in any of the other heritage events during the year, so I’m not discriminating. But these Black History Month events are much higher profile. I feel like I am going to be judged for not attending and possibly even called racist. How can I handle this and maintain a good reputation at work? -- No Celebrating

DEAR NO CELEBRATING: A critical part of being a team player in a work community is participating in the big events -- and often the smaller ones -- that are produced for the staff. The higher-profile events do bring more scrutiny in terms of who attends. Sure, you could tell anyone who asks that you don’t attend any such events. But I recommend that you adopt a more inclusive strategy. Think about the bigger picture.

You can go to events during Black History Month as well as the various other causes and engagements for a few minutes. Pay your respects and go on with the rest of your day. Those few minutes of socializing, preferably at the beginning of the event when the stakeholders are in the room, will be a far more efficient use of your time than explaining away others’ judgment of your absence.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Reader's Newspaper Goes Missing Too Often

DEAR HARRIETTE: I get the newspaper delivered to my home every weekend. It has always been a bit problematic because I live in an apartment building, and rather than the delivery person bringing it to my door, he leaves all of the papers at the entrance of the building. I would say that about once a month, somebody takes my paper. I go downstairs on a Saturday or a Sunday to get the paper, and there isn't one. I have been tempted to take somebody else’s paper, but that’s not right. I can’t figure out who is stealing the paper, or if sometimes it isn’t delivered. When I ask the delivery person to drop it at my door, he says he can't. What recourse do I have? -- Missing Paper

DEAR MISSING PAPER: This is quite a predicament in that you cannot control the movement or safe arrival of your paper. Contact the newspaper every time yours is missing and ask for a refund. If you do that insistently and regularly enough -- with the success of receiving a refund -- they may change their delivery policy.

Otherwise, you may have to accept that you will lose a few papers or decide to receive the whole thing online. I know the latter is difficult if you are like me and you like to hold the paper in your hands.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Money | Etiquette & Ethics