Dear Amy: My father-in-law passed away recently. Before he died he had a handicap parking permit that Mom proudly displayed whenever she parked, even though Dad was not with her.
She still uses it everywhere she goes, even though she is very healthy and walks 2 miles every day.
Recently, my wife and I took her out to dinner. I was embarrassed when she pulled the permit out and told me to park in the handicap space. I offered to drop her off at the door and park in a normal spot. She would have none of it.
To avoid an argument, I parked in a handicap space. I vowed not to do that again, because it is illegal and wrong. My wife wants to appease her mother and believes the permit reminds her of Dad.
Amy says: A parking permit is a strange totem to attach emotional meaning to. Perhaps you should simply assume that your mother-in-law is attached to the convenience of illegally using a handicap permit.
Your offer to drop off your mother-in-law at the entrance was the appropriate gesture to make. Your wife could have easily walked with her inside.
Because you know it was wrong of you to park in the handicap spot, you might have made your point clearly if you had told the group before the meal: “I feel terrible about taking up that spot while we are sitting here eating. I’m going to move the car now. When we leave I’ll retrieve it and pick you up at the entrance, if you don’t want to walk.”
Cleaning lady needs to tidy up
Dear Amy: I have employed a cleaning lady for nearly 20 years. She is kind, pleasant and trustworthy. She is now in her early 50s and has no physical limitations, other than lifting heavy things.
I pay her cash. I have always paid her $80 per visit, and she comes every other week. I also give her $200 at Christmas.
She used to work roughly four hours per visit, and always did a good job. But in the last several years, her work has slacked off. It appears she only works two hours per visit, and I usually end up doing my own dusting and cleaning the floors. My friends tell me I should fire her, but I don’t have the guts. Should I give her a raise? Warn her that she’s not doing enough? Or fire her?
Amy says: You don’t have the guts to fire this person, and so you are contemplating giving her a raise. But I fail to see how giving a person a raise when they do a bad job fixes this problem.
I think it is human nature to gradually lower your efforts with a repetitious job. You should tell her you notice that she is missing tasks. Review with her the scope of the job and make a checklist.
Your light housecleaning might not be a four-hour job. Perhaps you should reduce it to three hours and pay her a higher hourly wage.
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