Dear Ann Cannon • I hope you will print my response to “Waiting-to-Hear Spouse.” I have worked in offices for over 30 years and one of the most annoying problems is employees whose spouses (usually wives) call, text, email or drop by all the time. I once had a woman call me to check in to see if her husband made it to work OK on the bus. I’ve had co-workers and subordinates who frequently hash out their marital woes over the phone for over an hour. I’ve had to cover important meetings because a co-worker forgot that his wife scheduled a snowboard lesson for him and his son (on a weekday).
Spouses, and they’re not always the homemakers, need to realize that their spouse is supposed to be working, which usually doesn’t entail hearing details regarding family life throughout the day. At best, “Waiting-to-Hear” could find her/himself the butt of endless office eyerolls and resented for neediness. At worst, constant contact could threaten the breadwinner’s livelihood. She/he is lucky that the spouse isn’t in constant contact with wife/husband.
I understand that checking in once a day is reasonable. Maybe if “Waiting-to-Hear” could frame his/her request in terms of “I’d like you to check in with me in case I need something from the store or I need to remind you that dinner will be late that evening,” the request would resonate more. I also understand that being home all day with young children is stressful, but it’s not an employer’s role to provide daytime, in-home diversion.
Remember, whether home with children or working to provide for a family, all parents are full-time! Thanks.
— Been There, Seen That
Dear Been There • This response was typical of those from individuals who’ve been in the workforce for many years, but I think the advice is solid. Thanks for the perspective.
Meanwhile, it’s cold out there, so I asked a few of my favorite booksellers to offer their advice about books worth curling up with on a dark January night.
I fell instantly under the spell of “Far Field” by Madhuri Vijay. I found myself transformed — not just by the bewitching language and the irresistible pull of the story, but the compassion and humanity of the teller — a compassion that allows the reader and teller alike to recognize truth and then to forgive — oneself, as well as others. — Betsy Burton
My pick for a cold winter’s night would be “From A to X” by John Berger and for a cold winter’s weekend, “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. — Jan Sloan
There’s no one on earth I’d rather keep me warm than Jamie Fraser from “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. — Anne Holman
“’Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch is a mind-bending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the best-selling Wayward Pines trilogy. Read it on a cold winter night — ONLY if you don’t mind staying up until you finish it. — Becky Hall
I’m reading the Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong, which is set in a small settlement deep in the freezing Yukon wilderness where every resident (including law enforcement) has a past they’re trying to bury. — Paula Longhurst
“Virgil Wander” by Leif Enger is like news from Lake Wobegon, only better. Small Minnesota complete with a rundown movie theater with a treasure trove of stolen old classics, a kite-flying Norwegian learning how to become a grandfather when he didn’t know he was one, and Virgil himself who sails through a guardrail one snowy night and lands in the lake, is thankfully rescued and must relearn who friends are as he reconstructs his lost adjectives. — Anne Mark
“The Dry” by Jane Harper was great. Set in Australia in the back country during a drought, a detective returns to his hometown where he was suspected of a murder as a teen and gets pulled into solving a murder in the present time. Dark and compelling. — Sally Larkin
“In the House in the Dark of the Wood” by Laird Hunt is a surreal, dark, sparse, spooky Puritan fairytale that twists every time you least expect it. — Mackenzi Lee
“The Gatekeepers” by Chris Whipple is a review of chiefs of staff and their influences on the POTUS from Richard Nixon through Barack Obama.” — Sue Fleming
I am smitten with “Once Upon a River” by Diane Setterfield. A little bit ghost story, a little bit love story, a little bit about the power of storytelling — it’s a perfect read for a cold winter night.” — Jennifer Adams