Q. Some friends and I are members of a pretty no-nonsense gym. The majority of the members are hardcore athletes who train for upcoming marathons, while the rest of us are more “well-upholstered” Midwesterners trying to get fit.
There is a problem with one gym member, and we cannot seem to agree on how to handle it. In the area where the treadmills, elliptical machines, and rowers are located, there are ceiling fans that provide some respite from the stuffiness.
One woman turns all of the fans off every time she enters the area. We are reluctant to say anything to her because she clearly has “issues.” She’s extremely emaciated; I assume she has an eating disorder. She comes to work out in a hooded sweat shirt, yet makes very little effort on the machinery. While the rest of us are sweating up a storm, she is casually reading her magazine, checking messages, etc. Meanwhile, those of us exerting ourselves would love to have the additional circulation provided by the fans!
We are not sure how to handle this. We don’t want to cause any undue angst to someone who is struggling. But “majority rules” should hold up for a room full of sweating people!
A. Having “issues” or an eating disorder does not make this person in charge of the very air moving through a public area. You can assume that her extreme thinness may make her feel cold all the time.
You are all obviously very nice, kind Midwesterners. You should have a secret locker room meeting and elect the most courageous to approach her.
I’m kidding. I elect you to be brave enough to walk over to her, make eye contact, smile, and say: “Hi, it’s too hot in here to keep the fans off, so I’d like to turn them back on. Is that OK?” And you flip the switch.
Once the will of the majority is made clear, she might be happy to comply.
Q. I am a mental health counselor and want to reply to your response to “Distraught,” whose daughter seemed to be descending into mental illness. Your advice did not go far enough.
My late mother had a devastating mental illness for more than 50 years. “Distraught” and other supportive family members and friends should make an appointment with a qualified mental health counselor. They need support and information about what the daughter’s symptoms mean, and they need a plan. The symptoms and situation can and will improve with proper treatment. Supportive family involvement is essential to a good outcome.
A. Great advice. Thank you.
Q. I agree with your response to “Two Desperate Friends.” You stated, “Friends tell each other the truth, and then friends stick around for the aftermath.”
I had a best friend years ago (25 or so). One day he asked me if I thought he was doing right to marry his girlfriend. I was as kind as I could be, but I told him “no,” and I told him why.
Our friendship cooled after that, and we have not spoken in years. My wife thinks I should have told him what he wanted to hear. I told her I have not one moment of regret. I did what I would have expected of him.
These folks are still married and it is a perfect relationship — give and take. He gives and she takes. But it works for them.
A. You treated your friend as you would want him to treat you.