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Annie's Mailbox

Ask Amy column

Q. I am writing this for my wife, who is afraid of suffering repercussions at work. She works in a professional office with about 30 people. She likes her job, is well respected, and gets along well with her colleagues.

One of my wife’s co-workers insists on keeping a bowl full of chocolate candies in a common area located where my wife can see it while working at her desk. She passes by it every time she enters or leaves her office.

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The temptation has proven too much for her, and she succumbs to eating an average of three pieces of candy a day. Her candy habit has proven detrimental to her ability to keep away excess pounds.

She has asked her colleague to move the candy bowl to another location or to bring in some healthier snacks, but he refused and told my wife that she should have enough self-control not to eat it.

She took her complaint to the office manager, but he refused to have the candy moved.

My wife tried to get some of her colleagues to back her up, but they are all too afraid of the political repercussions of confronting the office manager. I love my wife and will continue to love her regardless, but I think this office candy situation is potentially detrimental to her health.

A. The world does not owe your wife, or any of us, an environment scrubbed free of risk or temptations. Following bans on smoking, profanity, alcohol, allergens, sharp edges, and hurt feelings in the workplace, your wife would now like her company to remove chocolate from her sightline lest she overindulge.

Your wife’s manager could have easily “fixed” this by asking her co-worker to keep his candy in his office, but, for whatever reason, this is not happening.

Now it is her job to accept this state of affairs, and if she cannot mitigate the bowl of chocolate with a bowl of apples placed next to it, then she should simply factor in those three pieces of chocolate and eat less at other times or exercise more.

In short, I’m suggesting that she accept reality and take responsibility for working around it.

Q. Is there some nice way to tell guests that they are being rude? We hosted a party for a small group of friends and relatives last week, and about half the adults (and some of the children) pulled out cellphones. In the middle of the party they were tweeting, checking e-mail, looking at their Facebook pages, etc., and not interacting with the other guests. It seems everywhere you go nowadays, everyone is fiddling with electronic devices and not interacting with live people.

I thought this was extremely rude. Should I just shut up and tolerate this behavior? Is this the “new normal”?

A. I understand your frustration, but this behavior seems to be less “rude” than it used to be, certainly in a casual environment. Sometimes, people are actually using their devices to communicate with other people in the room, by showing, sharing, or tweeting to their followers: “Having an awesome time at Uncle Jack’s house.” Using your phone at a sit-down dinner is rude unless you are receiving an emergency call from the sitter.

There is no way to politely chastise guests for their poor manners. I agree with you that this is a social adjustment we are all struggling to make and look forward to learning what other readers think.

Send questions via e-mail to askamy@tribune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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