Ask Martha: Should I take voluntary redundancy at work?
Got a social dilemma? Martha Arthur has the answer...
Sunday 21 December 2008
Q. Should I take voluntary redundancy at work? Elaine, via email
A. Who do you think I am – Mystic Meg? I can't divine your financial and professional history from a one-line email. Clearly you aren't the brightest bulb on the tree, so having somehow acquired a job you should hang on to it for all you are worth.
Q. Should I still give my postman a Christmas bonus even if he is not a Christian? Claire, Scunthorpe
A. At this time of year, I have personally observed atheists putting up Christmas trees, Jews attending school carol concerts, and Muslims taking advantage of buy-one-get-one-free offers on jars of cranberry sauce. You do not have to be able to prove you have been baptised in order to get a day off work, either. Christmas is indubitably a Christian festival, but it is also a much wider socio-cultural jamboree. So go ahead with the tip. Rarely did the giving of free money cause anyone offence, but you can always hope that his conscience will dictate that he returns it to you unopened.
Q. Our uncle's drinking often gets out of control at Christmas. Last year the Queen's speech was almost spoilt entirely by his heckling. We also had to endure many tuneless renditions of sea shanties, many of them involving words my teenage children have yet to learn. What do you advise? Beth, Cricklewood
A. There are several time-honoured tricks you can try, such as exchanging his second mulled wine for very spicy, piping-hot Ribena, or pouring his Bucks Fizz so that proportionally it has a lot more Bucks than it does Fizz. When he asks for the brandy, pass him the box of liqueur chocolates rather than the bottle. You could also attempt to co-ordinate a Christmas Eve search-and-destroy mission on his hip flask, though that's a little bit mean, as well as deeply unseasonal – remember that in many households, where Christmas is synonymous with temporary alcoholism, his antics would be considered good value and his sea shanties would be captured on home video for posterity. Perhaps you should consider what could possibly be driving him to such behaviour? It couldn't possibly be the thought of watching the Queen's speech in reverential silence while your beautifully brought-up children walk round with books on their heads, could it?
Email your social dilemmas to Martha at firstname.lastname@example.org
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