You can still wear masks to meetings

I will say this too – I guess if other arrangements were possible, she would have made them already. Maybe her attitude is not so much right as despair. Another way to look at this is to ask yourself what you would hope for if the situation changed. How would you like your colleague to help you? If you feel generous, I would suggest that you talk to this colleague and find out why she should leave early, so that you can make a choice instead of a commitment that is not really yours at all.

I notice that out-of-office messages now usually have an “out of office” or “away from email” theme. I think it’s important to normalize leave – and not actually work during the holidays, so I use this as my theme when I’m on leave (eg “on holiday; back to DATE”). There are some advantages to using non-vacation language, as it doesn’t clarify when people are probably out for medical or family leave, and I want people to be able to keep it confidential and not ask me why I’m out of the office if I don’t tell them. I wonder if I should rethink my one-man campaign to make the holidays visible.

“Deborah, Berkeley, California.”

No need to rethink your campaign. If people want to be vague about being out of the office, for some reason, they can and will do it. For those of us who want to normalize vacations, something that absolutely everyone deserves is a way to take a small but important position. There is more to life than work. It is also incredibly healthy to say that you are not at work and will not do work in your spare time. More people need to take vacations that are really vacations and more people need to have the means to do so. Let your next vacation be as peaceful and restorative as you need it to be.

I work for a small company that is made up entirely of women in their 20s and 30s, with the exception of our founder and CEO, who is a man in his late 40s. Each year, the directors of our team ask for installments to purchase a birthday present and a Christmas present for our CEO. The fees they offer for each gift are small ($ 10 / person), technically optional, and directors compensate for the rest of their own pockets.

But something about it still rubs me the wrong way. The message around these gifts is always that we thank him for everything he does for us, but honestly he is a bit of a removed leader. We do not buy collective gifts for anyone else. He probably makes a lot more money than the rest of us. Am I overdoing it? If not, should I talk about it with my boss or just let him go, as the contributions are supposed to be optional and only $ 20 a year? I’m not sure if my peers in the company feel the same way, and I was afraid to mention it so as not to be perceived as generous.

– anonymous

I love giving gifts. As funny as it sounds, giving gifts is my language of love. But I never want to feel obligated to give gifts, especially to people with whom I have no personal relationship. For this purpose, it is not generous not to want to give a gift to the CEO of your company. The power imbalance between you and your CEO is significant. The difference in income is also significant. He is not your friend. He will not love you because you and your colleagues give him gifts twice a year.

I understand why your team is doing this, but the implied commitment would irritate me. You can casually ask your peers how they feel about this gift to help you decide how, if at all, to proceed. Such things are so difficult, because if you resist such a mandatory “voluntary” gift-giving, you are not a team player and do not fit into the culture, etc. These are pretty hard to shake labels, so I understand your reluctance to say anything. This may be one of those things you just have to tolerate, but it’s definitely ridiculous that people have to play games like that in the workplace.

Roxana Gay is the author, most likely, of “Hunger” and author of opinions. Write to her workfriend@nytimes.com.

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