Stuffed houses and disturbed offices

Mrs. Stuff writes:

When my grandfather-in-law passed away last year, I inherited the house. My husband and I moved in before summer and started digging through the massive amount of stuff he’d accrued over the years. Many of his cherished mementos are reserved for the family, but they’re not coming to pick them up. Half of my boxes are still packed up in the garage and we had to dig out a closet of broken board games.

We’ve been stuck like this for months now and it wouldn’t be so bad if people would make time to come get their stuff. But if we even mention remodeling certain areas of the house, they start breaking down in tears because the wallpaper will be gone.

Is an ultimatum in order, followed by a trip to Goodwill?

Heya, Mrs. Stuff.

Grief is a funny thing. It moves on its own special time line, as the weeping over the wallpaper shows. Unfortunately, there’s also no way to predict how otherwise sensible people will react to the idea that their grandfather’s house is no longer grandfather’s house. Repainting, new furniture, knocking down a wall to create a more open floor plan—it’s a grand scale of what is going to freak out your close family the most. And you are helpless.

I wish I could say that it will magically get easier and that everyone’s gonna come around for the stuff, but that hasn’t happened and now you feel like a prisoner. It’s not grandpa’s stuff that’s boxed up, it’s yours. His board games are in the closet. His cars are still out on the metaphorical lawn and everyone around you is just busy living their own lives while you go through private hell.

You’re going to lose a lot of family this way but the only way to reclaim your life is to get proactive. Set a deadline and make sure everyone clearly understands what that is. The car is going to be gone on this day. The blankets and board games are going to Goodwill this day. Didn’t come and get them? Sorry. The emotional manipulation stops here. Do not pass go, do not collect 200 smackers.

If people really want the stuff, they’ll come for it. If they were just keeping it around because it’s nice to have the memory, then you’re just being taken advantage of. Grief is real and intangible and right now everyone is held hostage to it. And you might have to become a real nasty woman in order to move past.

But as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler say, “B*tches get shit done.”

Sorry to break the news to you,
Your Advice Guru

Do Not Disturb writes:

My colleagues just don’t seem to get that I don’t want to be interrupted at work! Quite often, I don’t mind being interrupted. I like to be approachable, but I do have deadlines I need to meet on occasion and on those occasions I like to lock my door and get down to business.

However, when I try to get down to business, I get people knocking at my door vehemently until I answer and they just want to chat. Do not disturb signs on my door have become an office joke. It’s really starting to affect my concentration but I don’t want to be seen as the office bitch since only my boss and I are female.

How do I get the cave boys to back off?

Heya, Do Not Disturb.

Another case of emotional manipulation! I have to say, your office environment sounds kind of like a nightmare to me. Does anyone ever get anything done or does everyone just spend the day wandering cubicle to cubicle living vicarious lives through each other? Your water cooler must be like an episode of Monsters Inside Me.

And you must be one hell of a boss’s assistant in order to get a door to your office. You are counted on and expected to keep to the communal double standard. I reiterate that your office sounds like an utter nightmare of never-ending ringing phones. It’s like the parts of Mad Men where people just walk around and flirt and look good and that works for everybody but you, minxy Peggy.

So how to fix this without becoming the office b*tch?

There’s no way to do it.

Men have once again painted you into a corner. You assert yourself and suddenly you’re not fun. But not fun people? They’re the ones that get the work done. It’s life. Unless you want to spend the rest of your office career coming in on Sunday to do your actual work and spend the rest of the week visiting, you’ll have to stop making concessions to the boys and start raising your tone.

You’ll probably start getting compared to Hillary Clinton. But if they didn’t want that in the first place, they would’ve respected your Do Not Disturb sign.

Hearts and Stars,
Your Advice Guru