Dear Abby: Boss insists I go to book club meetings I can’t stand

DEAR ABBY: I have worked for the same company for 20 years. For the past eight years, I’ve been part of an office book club, mostly because the boss repeatedly pressured me to join. The members were mostly a clique of “mean girls”. I never felt involved or comfortable, but pushed meetings once a month to keep the peace.

When COVID sent everyone home to work for the past two years, book club was over, or so I thought, hoped, and prayed. While things are easing now, the pressure is building again. I don’t want to go back to this routine, but the powers that be don’t seem to accept any excuses or reasons.

After 24 months of freedom, forcing me to return there causes me great anguish. What would you advise me to say or do to be out of the way without upsetting the boss? — WANNA-BE DROPOUT

DEAR WANNA-BE DROPOUT: If you really think your job is in jeopardy if you refuse to attend book club, start looking for another job. Tell your boss that you no longer wish to participate because reading these books interferes with your personal time and since the COVID disruption you have developed other interests. Then suggest that another person be chosen if a quorum is required.

DEAR ABBY: The letter signed “Refaire en Orient” (June 7), from the lady who wanted to rewrite her husband’s hasty obituary, caught my attention. For 18 years, I was part of an American Legion Honor Guard, during which we held over 900 funerals. I also read the obituaries of deceased veterans.

Because of this experience, I constantly advise people to write their OWN obituaries. After all, who knows them best? This accomplishes two things: first, it greatly reduces the stress of those trying to write one under difficult conditions. Second, it guarantees the accuracy of the information it contains.

I wrote mine 20 years ago. Sure, it needs updating, but when I die there will be just a few blanks to fill in and it’s good to go. — VETERAN IN VIRGINIA

DEAR VETERAN: Thank you for the service you have so generously provided all these years and for the sage advice you have shared with my readers today.

DEAR ABBY: I recently stayed at a historic inn, which had very thin walls. An occupant of the next room sneezed. I heard it and wondered, “Should I say ‘bless you’?” The sneeze came in the middle of a conversation that I had respectfully tried to avoid hearing, but was clearly audible. My thought was to ignore the sneeze so as not to intrude on their privacy. A co-worker thinks I should have reacted to the sneeze. Your thoughts would be appreciated. — BE POLITE IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR BE Polite: I agree with your office colleague. If you had answered the sneeze, it would have alerted your neighbors that their conversation was not necessarily private, which would have done them a favor.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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