Photo creates awkward situation
Published February 5, 2007
Dear Abby: I am writing on behalf of my friends at work. We have a co-worker, "Madge," who had a stillborn baby last year. It was tragic. Our problem is, she keeps a photo of the deceased infant on her desk in plain view, so that if we must interact with her (we have an open cubicle layout) we have to see it.
Is this appropriate? Ninety percent of the employees here are women. Most are appalled. Others say, "Well, it's all she has."
Madge is expecting again, and we are rooting for her and the baby. However, in addition to all this, she is mean and gossipy. Madge tells everyone what to do and how to do it -- which is not in her job description. I hope that when the baby arrives she will soften and not be so bitter. But, Abby, how on earth do we blow off that photo.
-- Appalled in the Midwest
Dear Appalled: While a person's desktop is usually private territory, I agree that the photograph you describe is inappropriate in an office environment. Because Madge feels the need to keep the picture of her stillborn baby close, it should be kept in her purse with other family photos, or in her desk drawer.
How very sad that poor woman must be. The person who should deal with this delicate problem is the boss or the supervisor.
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