Sense & Sensitivity

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work on chartered yachts. I am in college, and my past in sailing and working in country clubs allowed me to have this opportunity. I love the money I make, so my school and social life sometimes take a hit.

On the most recent charter, I got drunk onboard. These weren't my working hours, but I still took it upon myself to wander the boat. Even typing this story now makes me cringe. I saw one of the charter guests, and she asked me if everything was OK. In my drunken state, I decided I wasn't OK and spilled all of my problems to this poor woman. We left each other shortly after she comforted me, and that was the end of it.

The next day, at the end of the charter, the tip was good and the captain seemed happy. I felt horrible. I was so unprofessional, and the charter guest didn't tell anyone to reprimand me. I didn't mention this incident to the crew, and I don't know how to keep going forward. I just want to be the best I can at my job. — Sea Sick, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

DEAR SEA SICK: Count it as a blessing that the charter guest did not report your state to the captain. It seems that you met with compassion exactly when you needed it. While it is perfectly understandable that you would be embarrassed by your behavior, you cannot get stuck in the space of feeling sorry for yourself or nervous about what happens next. Instead, be grateful for the discretion the guest showed, and vow to be sober moving forward. If you have issues that you need to handle, find professional support to help you. Forgive yourself for this moment of poor judgment.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I work on a farm and have lived in a rural area all of my life. The nearest city is a long drive away, and I can honestly say I like the simple life. At work, however, I've been having more and more trouble accepting how sexist my responsibilities are in comparison to the other farmhands. While they drive the tractors and sow the fields, I am told to bring blankets to the animals or check up on new chicks. I never do manual labor, even though I am more than capable of doing so.

I don't want to be the ragtag farmhand chasing after everyone, but I can hold my own on the farm. I have experience. How do I tell my boss this without coming across as whiney or dramatic? The last thing I need is to be stereotyped.

— Big and Strong,

Small Town, Virginia

DEAR BIG AND STRONG: Start by paying attention to what the needs are on the farm. What is not being handled? Instead of complaining about what you are not being invited to do, point out to your employer that you have noticed that certain things need attention. Then offer to do whatever that task is. Point out that you are strong and capable of doing all of the tasks on the farm. Ask for the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities.

You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o United Feature Syndicate, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.

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