Ask Amy

Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: I invited a good friend from work to my house for dinner. Our husbands get along well and we have children the same age (9 and 11) so I wanted to extend the friendship beyond work hours.

The adults lingered at the table and the kids went off to play.

Later, I found her oldest son in my bedroom. I told him it was off limits and he left with a good-natured apology.

Afterward, my children told me that he acted very strangely. He kept leaving the family room (where they had snacks, games, etc.) and wandered the rest of the house.

He was aggressive with our animals and too rough with my children's things, but he stopped when they told him to.

He touched everything and opened drawers, closets, etc.

He seemed to have spent most of the visit sneaking through the house, touching and moving things. He put my husband's ties under our bed and cat food in the dryer.

He hid a cell phone in a cabinet. Nothing is missing and nothing is really damaged.

I am flummoxed.

Her son's behavior seems abnormal to me, but she has never mentioned it.

Do you have any thoughts, Amy? I don't want to hurt my friend, but her son's behavior concerns me.

— Concerned Co-worker

DEAR CONCERNED: Speak to your friend. Her son might have a disorder along the autism spectrum (that's my educated but not definitive guess).

His mother should have indicated to you that he has a tendency to wander and poke around.

The fact that she didn't may mean that she isn't quite aware of the scope of his issues — or perhaps being in an unfamiliar house triggered some of this behavior. She should be told.

Say, "We really enjoyed having you over. I need to let you know that Timmy had some adventures while we were in the other room. No harm done, but I think you should be aware of it because it was pretty unusual."


DEAR AMY: You've been running letters from people affected by unemployment.

As a former educator at an outplacement organization, I can tell you the people who are most devastated at losing their jobs are those 45 and older. They actually believe that no one will hire them because of their age.

That is the biggest misconception in the job market today. Companies today do not and cannot afford to train workers.

Therefore, they want to hire someone who can step in and do the job from day one.

Younger candidates generally lack the necessary experience to make a significant impact.

The older job candidate has it over the younger job candidate, but his or her resume must speak of that experience as it relates to the job they are seeking.

That means candidates may have to do some resume rewriting for each position they are applying for.

I was hired at 59 and again when I was 62.

The point is, you're not old, you're experienced — and that is why people hire you!

— Bob

DEAR BOB: I appreciate your upbeat assessment of the better qualities of older job candidates.

I recently read a story saying that the more experienced pool of candidates for temporary census workers (due to the current high unemployment numbers) means that this decade's census may get done ahead of time and under budget.

I'll add another quality that older people bring to the work force: gratitude. Working beats not working every time, and older workers realize this reality very keenly.


DEAR AMY: You suggested that three people carpooling should share the cost of a parking ticket.

Why? You have one offender, and that person should pay the ticket.

If that employee was late because the employer needed his services beyond the normal quitting hour, then it is only morally right that the employee should, then, be reimbursed.

I don't see any reason why the other riders should be responsible.

— Logical Lola in Connecticut

DEAR LOGICAL: I want to quit my job and go to work for the employer who will reimburse employees for parking tickets.

Sharing the cost (within reason) provides all three parties an incentive to keep the others on time. If one person perpetually holds up the other two, the majority can pressure him to pay.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com

Filed under: Lifestyles

2 Comments on this post:

By: dustywood on 4/16/10 at 7:53

Regarding unemployment: I know several people over age 50 that can not get a job interview. They have the skills, are willing to work odd hours. In our neighborhood these unemployed people are helping each get peice meal jobs. Doing jobs such as tree cutting, lawn mowing, mulching. Most have been out of work for over a year.

By: NewYorker1 on 4/16/10 at 9:32

The world has changed and so has the job market. Employers are looking for special skilled workers now days. I think age is less of an issue if you have the right skills i.e., information technology, engineering, medical, etc. If order to stay employed and paid well, you have to continue to improve your skill set and continue to be trained. It's time for people to step up their game in order to stay employed and well paid. The days are gone when you can go work in a plant and retire from there with a nice pension. Those days are pretty much gone. We are living in a GLOBAL economy now and we have to compete globally. Your skills have to be specialized and you have to continue to educate yourself and stay trained on the latest and greatest skill sets. My father is a doctor and he is always in conferences learning about new technology and continuing his education. I have two degrees, one in Civil Engineering and the other in Architecture, but I don't work in those fields but if I did I would continue to go to school and improve my knowledge and understanding in those fields. I started my own business in the music industry and I have to stay on top of my skill set in order to stay in the game.