Thursday, January 26, 2012

1/26 - Problem At Sea

This will be a bit of a quickie.

L4: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a garlic lover and a garlic hater ought not to holiday together if they shall have to do their own cooking.

I am all a-marvel at how LW4 can seriously sit down and write of looking forward to the holiday and then almost immediately want to insist on the families preparing and eating separate food. Why, if the question of food were so important, agree to a holiday without planning to stay at an hotel?

One can ask all sorts of questions. LW4's diet apparently is not vegan. Seafood-including vegetarian? Or is LW4 one of those healthniks who cannot condone any indulgence? Or just one of those drill-sergeant type of parents who has every detail of the child's life regimentalized? How old is the son? Has he never eaten a hamburger or a hot dog? Have there never been conflicts in his life because of this (parties, picnics, visits to friends)? How many friends has this cost S4? And why would H4's mother be the party

Life with LW4 sounds about as amusing as a long visit to the Thripps, that charming couple who communicated with each other by means of brusque, insulting and typewritten notes. The only irony is that, chez Thripp, the child of the family, young Norman, made out like a bandit when his parents appeared to be headed towards divorcing. A rival present from each every week made for quite the arms race.

I advise LW4 to divorce. It was foolish to marry into such a family. But if the purity of S4's palate is worth spoiling the family holiday and worth not teaching him to be able to eat foods outside of his ordinary range when the occasion requires, then it's worth a divorce.

L3: A happily family of co-workers had long been established by LW3 at Company X.

This one is too easy. Either trade the distrubing element to another department or entrap him. There are way too many parallels to which LW3 can refer. One can look at the case of Francesa Clapstick, who managed, just before her sixteenth birthday, to seduce her English teacher, Ronald Ransom, earning him two years in the nick, and all because he gave her boyfriend Charles bad grades. Or one can refer back to Shakespeare himself - Measure for Measure, anyone?

L1:  LW1, handsome, clever and rich, had lived in marriage for nearly twenty-one years with very little to distress or vex her.

This is a sad situation. The Prudecutor reminds me of Sir William Bradshaw telling Septimus Warren Smith and his wife Rezia that Septimus will do better in the country, far away from his wife, for the people closest to us are not good for us when we are ill. I'm sure that not many would quarrel with such a choice on the part of LW1, but the suggestion is made in a way that comes across here as ghoulish. The reader might well think that I should not object to sticking the Prudecutor into Assisted Living, but it would not be proper for me to comment.

In this sort of situation, barring strong financial considerations, I prefer an open consort to a divorce and remarriage. It better shows which relationship is centred.

L2: LW2 - Why do you care if it would selfish to refuse a second request for any reason you might choose? So what if it is? Why did you even agree to do it once in the first place? Are you the sort of person who is regularly bullied by relations? Do you comply all too easily to such requests? Why does your husband say nothing when you are attacked in this manner?

The Prudecutor misses the true heart of the issue. I do not entirely blame her, as the key to the letter is a very small one. It is a tiny word, so tiny as to consist of only one letter. LW2 states, "Last year I gave birth to a lovely daughter." The key word is a. Surely the correct phrase for a surrogate to use would be their lovely daughter. Whatever the desires of either couple in the case, I'd advise against LW2's serving as the surrogate again just on the facts.

This reminds me of "Problem at Sea" when Mrs Clapperton complains that her husband won't play bridge. Only Poirot is sufficiently astute to pick up on the difference between won't play and can't play (although doesn't play might have been interesting). We later learn why. When the good Colonel is doing card tricks at the end of the evening, he agrees to play one hand, and deals each player all thirteen cards of one suit as an example of why a man who can manipulate the deck so should avoid a friendly game of bridge. Has the henpecked husband just given himself away as a conjuror?

Moral:  "She takes it as a personal insult that he doesn't, I suppose," said Ellie, drily.

1 comment:

  1. Re. LW#3: I object.

    Of course, the boss wrote it where the boss is the victim. LW's usually do. However, it is the Advisor's responsibility to read between the lines and try to see both sides' point of view, even though only one has been presented.

    Have you ever had the misfortune to work at an office where everyone is "old friends", where the boss chats with his "old friend" employees about teh soccer game they all played that weekend, to which you were not even invited? Been wondering what to have for lunch when all teh "old friends" make arrangements to go out for lunch together? Endured a supposedly business meeting where almost the entire time was filled with inside jokes and references which made no sense to you, but which no one bothered to try to explain? Or if you asked for an explanation, were told "you just had to be there"? Even though you are made to feel you would not have been welcome even if you had been?

    I think this boss needs to look at his own actions. If his employee is having an attitude problem, he (the boss) is responsible first to determine why there is a problem (did the guy's wife just leave? Is his father ill? Is he just not happy at this company?) before taking drastic action. If he can't determine that the problem is temporary or something the company can fix or work around, then the employee needs to be told what about his attitude needs to change - Come on time, participate more in meetings, stop complaining so much, whatever. Only if he fails to get with the program after being told specifically what needs to change should the boss dismiss him, assuming he really isn't violating any laws or policies.

    If he's been there even a month, the company has a lot already invested in him. Make sure the investment really is wasted before cutting losses, or this boss is likely to find every other person he hires will have similar problems.