The “Dirty Little Secret” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. Lucky you.

S2: Your freedom, your prudence here, prudence, prudent into your proof here. Do you think that I should contact him again? Help! Help! Thank you. Thank you.

S3: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again. And as always, I am your host. Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel M. Lavery. With me in the studio this week is a friend of the show. So I hope the restaurant critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and the host of The Chronicle’s new food podcast, Extra Spicy. Welcome to the show, my friend.

S4: Thank you for having me again. I’m so excited to dole out advice from my from my storied perch.

S3: It’s gonna be great. Your purchase is extremely storied. And I’m just I’m glad that we’ve got a cooking related question, although I wish it were more along the lines recently that actually required your expertise rather than just like someone’s been a jerk about my cooking.

S4: I mean, that’s generally I mean, if people were asking us what to do about turnips, I think this would be a different show.

S1: Oh, speaking of which, actually, Grace got parsnips this week. And we’ve been pretty stymied because I think I hate parsnips, but I can’t remember. Oh, no. I feel like I hate some root vegetables very much and I love other root vegetables. And it’s always hard for me to remember which of the ones that I love and which are the ones that I despise. I’m pretty sure I hate turnips.

S4: I think you should just tattoo it on yourself like the guy from Memento. Just so you know, keep track.

S1: If I had confidence in my ability to 100 percent nail down which ones I hate, I would do it. I don’t have that confidence at all.

S4: Well, tell her to make a parsnip tart anyway.

S3: Parsnip tart. I’ll see what I can do about that. All right. The subject is cooking feud. Dear Prudence, my husband never seems happy with what I cook. He doesn’t cook for me and won’t cook for himself, but considers himself a feminist for ordering a takeout meal once or twice a year and emptying the dishwasher once every two months. I’ve tried asking what to get before I go to the store, but even when I get everything he asks for. He’s always for Laun when I set food in front of him. I’ve tried to ask point blank what the problem is and he gets defensive. This has been going on for 10 years. Am I wrong for saying that? This is insulting to me and my time. Part of me thinks he should do his own shopping and cooking, but I’m afraid then he’ll just spend a lot of money on meals, services and make messes for me to clean up as payback. Why is this my responsibility? I just want you to know that while I read this letter, Grace looked over and made intense eye contact with me, I think five times.

S4: Ten years.

S3: Yeah. I read something like this. I hear for ten years my husband has been every night. Looking crestfallen when I make him dinner, he offers no solutions and does nothing to participate in the shared project of eating as a family. And I worry that if I stop doing this for him, he will punish me by, like, throwing us into debt, by ordering elaborate meals every night and like dropping things on purpose on the kitchen floor to make me suffer. And I think at that point, why why would you know, like what’s what’s the reason to stay? Do you see a reason to stay in this letter? Do you see signs that there’s a marriage that’s worth trying to preserve?

S4: I don’t. And, you know, let me tell you, when I first met my in-laws right now, I heard that my mother in law was a housewife for much of my husband’s childhood. And I was like, wow, that’s kind of weird because, you know, I was raised by a single mom and she would cook dinner home like she would cook dinner every night. I thought, wow, that is amazing. And also, like, so. Wow. And I thought, that must be really tiring. And the first time I had dinner with them, my father in law said that was the best meal I’ve ever had. And apparently he says that every day. Every day. And that’s like what made it work. You know, he also helps. And you cooked and he also cleaned and all the stuff. But like, just that appreciation was such a big deal. And to not have that, then that’s just drudgery. Then it’s just like I’m just putting this input into a slot when the slot is supposed to be my life partner. Am I like, you know, someone who is supposed to be, like, emotionally there for me. And, you know, reciprocating in some way. I know this sounds awful.

S3: Yeah, this. This to me is like if you’re afraid of saying after ten years of you complaining constantly, no matter what, I try to cook for you. I’ve decided to stop cooking for you. If you’re afraid that that means he’s going to start like pouring cereal directly onto the floor. And like, punishing you. This isn’t a question of, like, my husband. I have a pretty good marriage. We’re okay on shared definitions of what like mutual respect means. But there’s this one issue that comes up. This is like this man hates you. I think this man. Like devises ways to make your day frustrating, uncomfortable and anxiety, like an exercise in failure. And he does so deliberately and in full knowledge that you’ve been sort of desperate to please him for a decade. This is not a little thing. This happens every night. And you’re so afraid of simply saying, I’m no longer going to cook your dinner for you every night, that he would go out of his way to make you suffer. I just think, what if you took it a step further and said, not only do I not want to cook for you anymore. I’ve been so worried that in saying that you would try to punish me. That I’ve kept making you dinner even though I know you’re going to berate me or fault me for it. And at this point, I’m kind of wondering why I’m sticking around. It’s it’s big enough and it’s serious enough that I I’m I’m pretty sure you actually just don’t really like me. And I’m so curious, like, what would his response to that be such that you would feel like there’s hope here?

S4: Well, I predict that the answer would be, you know, why are you making such a big deal out of something that is so minor? Right. And I think that’s often why people don’t take food. You know, like people use food as a kind of a battleground in these sorts of like weird, like passive aggressive kinds of arguments because it’s so easy to diminish. It’s like, no, I mean, that’s not a big it’s just food. Like, what are you talking about? You know, but it is in so many ways a symbol of deeper things. Right. This is a symbol of how deeply he is devaluing his partners, labor, you know.

S3: Yeah. And this is not like a misunderstanding or like you failed to communicate expectations. And he could have made these mistakes, like with the best of intentions. Like you go out of your way to shop according to his specifications and then, you know, you cook him dinner and his response is, oh, man. Well, I guess in September, all empty the dishwasher. And then when you say what’s wrong? He gets defensive. Like, I just.

S5: I don’t have a script for this. I don’t have a strategy for this. I think this man doesn’t like or respect you. I think you live with a man who dislikes you, wants you to be unhappy and kind of thinks you’re a piece of shit. And I don’t think you should stay married to him. That is my best advice.

S3: My best advice is that if you’re so afraid of not cooking for him every night, even though he already tries to punish you for cooking for him every night, you’re afraid he’ll find a new way to punish you. I think that means you have a bad husband and you should leave him. And yeah, that that question of like, why is this my responsibility? If not, you spent 10 years making this your responsibility because you wanted to please your partner and you felt bad and you felt self-conscious and you felt like you were the problem. And I think you are right to say it’s not anymore.

S4: And the most like I think for me, the most generous reading I could give to is that maybe the husband just really doesn’t care about food, which, you know, like there are people like that. Certainly.

S5: But if he didn’t care, he would just eat whatever was put in front of him. Right. You know, he wouldn’t get into these little snits. Right.

S4: Right. It could also be. Right. Like a difference in just maybe he just doesn’t understand, like, what this means. Also, you know, this is me being like, kind of OK.

S5: Like, maybe, you know, I think I do really want to resist that because I think especially often in the case where the this kind of dynamic is going on, I think it can be tempting to say, like, oh, he just doesn’t understand, which I think lets him off the hook too easily. Like, this guy, I bet doesn’t behave like this at work. And I bet it’s because he knows perfectly well that people wouldn’t stand for that behavior at work. So I think it’s too it’s being too easy on him to say, oh, maybe he just doesn’t get it. Maybe he just needs it to be explained to him again. It sounds like the letter writer has brought this up a lot and offered a lot of suggestions. I don’t think the problem here is that he doesn’t get it. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

S4: It does seem like he gets a little bit of pleasure from being oral, maybe even a lot of pleasure from being like King, maybe of his household, you know. And you don’t have to be king baby servant. You can go.

S3: Please go. Yeah. Yeah. And you don’t have to try to turn King baby into, like, a nice, normal, well-adjusted adult who is happy to, like, either eat a dinner you make for him or says, let’s make dinner together or says, you know, I made dinner, you know. Yeah. None of those are unreasonable things to ask for an apartment.

S4: Now, imagine a life where you are making food with a partner and they love what you cook. And I mean, that to me is so simple, but it’s so gratifying. And you deserve to have that every day.

S3: Yeah. Or at the very least, the pleasure of cooking for yourself. Whatever you like. And then eating it yourself and then appreciating yourself. You know, there’s a real little red hen situation except worse because. OK. I think I might be misremembering the little redhead story like no one wants to help and then everyone wants to eat the bread, right? Yes. It’s not quite right because he doesn’t want to help and he doesn’t want to eat the bread. But then he wants you to make like a different kind of bread. So it’s worse than the little redhead.

S4: Would you read our next letter? Absolutely. The subject is going pee in peace, which is a really delightful thing to say. Articulate. Dear Prudence. I started a new job as a cashier at a grocery store in May. The store has a rule where cashiers have to ask to go to the bathroom during their shifts. I can’t just tell the next cashier over. I’m running to the bathroom. I have to use the phone to call my supervisor to ask permission. It’s not like someone needs to cover me. There are plenty of cashiers and when someone gets permission to pee, they just put the lane is closed. Sign up. I’ve only been working here a few weeks and calling my supervisor to inform you that I need to use the bathroom, while a tiny bit funny, is mainly humiliating. I have a small bladder. I usually wait as long as I can to avoid an uncomfortable conversation. And if they don’t answer my call right away, I feel uncomfortable and angry. Oh my God. Is this a reasonable or common workplace rule? Have I just been lucky to miss it before? Is it something that workplace is strongly enforced? Like will I get fired if I start to use the washroom when I really need to without calling my supervisor to ask? Especially if I if if I call once and they don’t pick up, am I being unreasonable to be so embarrassed by having to ask to use the washroom at work? Obviously, no. No, you know, this is an accessibility issue, isn’t it?

S3: Right. Yeah. So I had the exact same thought when I read this letter and I went and I went my through my trusty little OSHA search, which I always do in such things. Oh, show, by the way, is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that often makes rulings in such cases. In nineteen ninety eight, OSHA issued a memo because letter writer, you might not be surprised to learn that a lot of employers attempt to humiliate and penalize workers for trying to use the bathroom because capitalism is evil and grinds people down. There was, I believe, a lawsuit in 95 at Nabisco because supervisors attempted to prevent employees from using the restroom and instructed them to urinate into their clothes. So all of which is to say, I’m just going to read from this memorandum, which you can look up on OSHA dot gov. This memorandum explains OSHA’s interpretation that this standard, its reference to a different standard requires employers to make toilet facilities available so that employees can use them when they need to do so. The employer may not impose unreasonable restrictions on employee use of the facilities. OSHA believes this requirement is implicit in the language of the original standard and has not previously seen a need to address it more explicitly. Recently, however, OSHA has received requests for clarification of this point and has decided to issue this memorandum to explain its position. Clearly.

S4: Yes.

S3: So all that to say there’s detail about what that means to be provided to make available what’s reasonable. Lots of employers will go out of their way to either skirt the law or outright break it in order to make things difficult. That doesn’t mean that they are. Like, legally entitled to do so, but employers will try to get away with whatever they can.

S4: Right. And and, you know, I’m thinking also like this still happens. Right. Like, even though this is within your rights to be able to go to the restroom unencumbered, you know, it makes you think of the meat packing plants, you know, where people were actively just wearing diapers because they could not go out to the restroom while they’re handling meat, like whether handling food that we’re going to eat. It’s awful. And again, you know, like imagine if you had, for instance, like like a a chronic illness that would cause you to use the restroom more more frequently. That’s not their business. That’s not your boss’s business at all.

S3: Right. And and exactly. That’s so much of what it gets into is like it’s the difference between like, you know, again, in this OSHA memorandum, it talks about how like some assembly lines may need like a signal system so that you’re letting people know that you’ll be gone for a minute. OSHA believes that these systems comply with the standard. But but again, it’s a question of signaling, not asking permission and not waiting for someone to grant you that permission. So like all that said, you know, the question is like, what’s your next best move? Couple of different options there. I don’t know if your grocery store has a union or if there’s any interest in starting one. Lots of people are talking about them. It’s a lot easier to make demands when you’re not alone.

S5: Now might be a good time to start checking in with your fellow cashiers and say, like, does anyone else have trouble with us? I get that this is embarrassing to talk about. And that’s part of why that’s one of the many barriers facing, like people trying to unionize is like I don’t want to have to talk to my colleagues about, like, my need for a bathroom break. But even if you’re not prepared to, like, start a union tomorrow, you can at least check in and see, like, do other people find this objectionable as well? You can push back with your supervisor. You can either reference, you know, OSHA or the A.D.A and say, like, I’m not able to, like, wait to be granted permission. I’m happy to let somebody know. But, you know, you’re not entitled to tell me I can’t use the bathroom. And then there’s the kind of question of, like, hope that they don’t retaliate. And if they do, you know, talk to a lawyer, do you do do you see anything beyond that?

S4: Like, well, I mean, I think that yes, those are all really important things, especially now. Right. Like, their job is at a grocery store. They’re an essential worker. And there’s a lot of talk in the air about like what that means and like what they’re entitled to, especially because they are performing these various central services and the momentum is there, you know.

S5: Yeah.

S4: And you’ve really got some power on your side like they and you and, you know, at the very least, you can maybe get your supervisors to just like ask like, is this actually practical? Like. Because I’m sure they’re busy. They have things that they need to do. And certainly if you fire someone for for peeing their pants like at the register because they were waiting for you to like pick up the phone like that can get into a whole other like you can probably sue them. Right.

S5: I mean, and that’s the problem with like at will employment. Right. Like, if they say we’re firing you because you stopped asking to use the bathroom, you’ve got great grounds for a lawsuit.

S3: And if they say, oh, totally unrelated reasons, we were firing you because you didn’t meet those other standards, we have your cases trickier, but like definitely like. Yes, if they fired you for saying, I’m not going to ask permission, use the bathroom, you would have probably a pretty solid lawsuit on your hands.

S4: Right. And whatever you do, document it. Yes. Put it on paper just like at X time. I asked X person about this and their response was Y, you know, just make sure that you have everything down just because, you know, the beginnings of kind of worker movement is documentation, which doesn’t sound very sexy, but it is very much just having a record of how management responded to legitimate concerns, whether they responded well or badly or not at all. Having done a paper is just an accumulation of all those things is how you gain leverage.

S5: Yeah, I think my kind of last suggestion there would be get in touch with the U.S., CW, which is the United Food and Commercial Workers. It’s a union that represents grocery workers in both the U.S. and Canada. And they can advise you either on how they’ve handled such issues in the past, possibly give you advice about how to start a union of your own.

S3: Maybe they won’t be able to help you at all, but that might be a good place to reach out. But, yeah, beyond that, I think what I would do in your situation is like raise it with my supervisor and say, like, I’m not able to wait and ask for permission. I’m happy to let somebody know when I’ll be gone and I’ll put up the sign. But this is just how it’s going to be. And I would say that as politely and respectfully as I could, but I would lean pretty hard on, like, how much you’re needed and the fact that they don’t have a lot of legal grounds to set. As a system, and then I would try to start a union. I think that’s what I would do. That’s what I would do, too. It’s awful. I’m so sorry. You’re absolutely right. It is humiliating. It’s micromanaging. It’s dehumanizing. Like, everything about it is petty, stupid, a waste of your time. And just anyone in management who’s involved in this should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.

S4: Yes. Just remember, they need you. Yeah. OK. Would you read our next letter? Oh, sure. The subject of this one is roommate freak out. Dear Prudence, I work from home. But my husband doesn’t. I cook and make his lunches. We live in a shared house with roommates. If one of them stops by all at making soup, I usually make a little extra for them. I don’t take orders and I’m not cooking for the house on a regular basis. I just sometimes share our leftovers. Our housemate. Leslie is a subletter whose girlfriend Gail recently moved in without House approval. She’s broke and incredibly thin skinned. So the rest of us try to avoid her. Leslie has agreed to pay more to cover Gail. Gail has complained about my cooking, and I’ve told her not to eat my food if she doesn’t like it. Recently she freaked out because I made meat, spaghetti and a lot of the housemates had some. Apparently, Gail is vegan. I had no idea. She started crying and accusing me of bullying her, that I always made a point to exclude her. And someone eventually had to go get Leslie to calm her down. Later, my husband and Leslie ended up fighting. Leslie wasn’t full blown attack dog mode. And my husband told her that Gail needed to get a grip or get out. Most of her housemates are upset at Gail and thinks Leslie needs to deal with her. Gail is acting like a wounded fun and will flee anytime she sees me or my husband. I started avoiding the common areas and gave up after a week. We’ve lived here three years. I have never changed. And if Gail wants to be persecuted, she can do in Leslie’s room. Leslie glares at us and makes comments about bigots. I’m not out to get Gail. People are welcome to eat the extra food I make, but I’m not catering to anyone. I don’t know why Gail fixated on me, and I’m not one of the other three people who regularly use the kitchen. What should we do?

S3: So my read of this letter is I feel like I’m missing something somewhere in some of these interactions. I feel like either the letter writer has left out an important piece of information or a beat in the conversation. Gail, sounds like a lot. Gail sounds unreasonable, but I also feel like stuff about full blown attack dog mode and wounded. Fawn, make me wonder if the letter writer is committed to de escalating or kind of reached out like a bitch eating crackers stage with Gail and maybe take some pleasure in either winding her up or there’s some interaction being left out? Not not like, oh, Gayle must be reasonable and you must have, like, done something to deserve this. But like, I get a sense that it’s maybe like an 80-20 thing, not a hundred and nothing. Right. Did that seem true to you?

S4: Yeah, no. I mean, that first thing right. About how the girlfriend moved in without House approval, that probably poisoned the well from the beginning.

S3: Well, I’m like, why didn’t you all talk about it at the time? Right. Like, I hate your collective avoidance there. Helped to create that situation. Like you don’t say why no one said, hey, Leslie, we need to talk about this. Like, you guys just sounds like avoided it because I know maybe you were uncomfortable or because you were worried that she didn’t have money. But it’s like it doesn’t mean you don’t talk about it, right?

S4: Yeah. Like, at least have a conversation. I would think that, you know, you live in a shared house. You have like regular meetings. I would hope. But it seems like this just happened out of inertia. And now it just like has snowballed out of inertia. But again, like. Because this I’m reading a very passive aggressive environment in this house, you know. And yes, Gail undoubtedly picked up on the resentment of her being there and is escalating it. You know, she’s not making it up. This is like actually present. I can feel that she’s just elaborating on it because nobody wants to talk to her about it. And of course, she’s really paranoid not to say that she’s right.

S3: But, I mean, Gail sounds like a real pill. Absolutely. The question is, what should we do? Have a goddamn house meeting? Yes. Talk. You haven’t had any house meetings. You should have had at least three.

S4: Yes. And if possible, bring in a mediator over Zoome or something. You know, like you need you need to intervene now because it’s only gonna get worse if you do nothing. And it just sounds like avoidance has kind of been the the thing. Sounds like the fight was kind of the the strange thing that happens, like there was actually a confrontation. And it you know, you have to have a meeting. You have to you have to stop this like as soon as possible, because this is your house.

S3: You know, the the pleasure of feeling right. Is not going to get you what you want. Like, you don’t need to convince anyone who you are and aren’t out to get. But you do need to be able have a conversation with your roommates about it. Is Gail on the lease? Is Gail protected by local tenants rights laws? What are the house rules when it comes to shared food? How can we collectively agree upon them? Now is the time to get these rules in writing so that we don’t have like endless squabbles about whether or not those rules are being violated. And I’m not saying that that means you’re never going to have conflict again. You will probably keep having conflict. But if you can get together as a house and agree on like here’s some of the rules we want to have about sharing food, you at least have something to refer to in future conflicts. And they won’t just be the sense of like, well, I think what I’m doing is reasonable. And like Gail thinks what she’s doing is reasonable. Like this is why people have House rules. It’s not just because people are like interfering busybodies who, like, love making her like wheels, cartwheels, chore wheels. That’s what I was trying to say. Like, they make those rules because at a certain level of complexity within a house just going along because everyone shares the same vibe, stops working, right?

S4: Yes. Like, you can’t just let things sort themselves out. And that that’s because it breeds all of this this weird misunderstanding. You know, Gayle just showed up. Right. And like, had no idea, like, what the nature of this, like, cooking was. And like, maybe you need to articulate that, too. And it’s all the stuff, as if you just lay it out, like, here’s what we’re doing, why we’re doing it. Or if you just like, you know, you say like, OK, if you want to cook, let’s do that. Gail, let’s let’s let’s all have like a a regular dinner like you can. I think I feel you can rehabilitate this relationship if you try.

S3: I mean, I think like you can have reasonable expectations for this relationship. You don’t ever have to like Gail. I don’t want to be frank. I understand why you’re frustrated. I don’t want to come down too hard. I just want to find solutions that will make living together, like, logistically possible. You don’t have to like each other, but you need to be able to come up with collective rules. And maybe one of those rules is like we need to talk about whether or not Gayle is joining us as another member of the household permanently, in which case, like, I might want to make different decisions. Or is this a short term sublet? At which point I’d like to know the move out date. That’s also a question that’s worth raising. Yes. I also don’t know, like, go fixated on you. I don’t want to waste your time worrying about that. I want you to be able to come up with house rules that you can all live with and abide by. And if that proves impossible, you know, come up with a Plan B..

S4: Right. Or, you know, you can help Leslie find other places, you know. The rental market is pretty good right now, actually. Yeah. But, yeah, I think that I think the temporary nature of their relationship is also kind of given space to this because they just I would think that the letter writer and their roommates probably didn’t want to commit or put in too much work into this relationship with Leslie. And then Gail, which has caused a lot of this resentment and weirdness you’re all putting a lot of work in now.

S3: You know, it will be less work to have the meeting and come up with the rules than to just constantly be fighting like this or like not fighting, but like having a blow up and then being super tense around each other. Yes. Which lands the damn boil boil the wound lanced the wound.

S1: Draw the lands out of the boil. L.A. oil. There’s pus and you need to get it out.

S4: Yes, you need it. Just just pop it.

S3: We’ll move on to our last letter. And away from this 10th, 10th kitchen, so many tense kitchens today. They’re the heart of the home. They are the heart of the home. And there’s a lot going on in homes right now. So the subject of this last letter is independent living. Dear Prudence and the young adults, I am autistic and able to live independently, although I do need some assistance with cleaning and finances. I used to live with roommates, but after my grandfather died and left me some money, I decided to buy and renovate a condo. In the meantime, I moved back in with my parents. Then the pandemic hit. Now the condo is ready. But I’m afraid to move in. I fear I can no longer live independently in this new reality. My biggest fear is grocery shopping. I can wear a mask, but it’s an unpleasant experience and horribly distracting. It’s hard for me to focus on anything else when I’m wearing a mask. Our local grocery stores also have strict rules about movement and flow. It’s very difficult for me to finish a task if I can’t arrange the order of operations myself, and I’m not sure I can focus on getting my groceries following all the new rules and wearing a mask all at once. I used to be able to grocery shop easily, but now it seems daunting, maybe impossible. Grocery delivery is not available in my area right now, and even if I somehow could get an exception to the mask rule, I still wouldn’t be able to focus because I’d feel judged. And I’d worry about getting yelled at by well-meaning strangers. There are other things that are harder for me now to do, but this feels like the biggest one. What do I do? How do I find independence in the post Kofod world?

S4: Oh my gosh. This is so hard. Yeah. And yes, like this. This reality is so disruptive, I think, to so many. And a can we forget that it can be really hard to to adjust and to follow this completely new set of rules that changes every day. It’s just like completely bananas.

S3: So yeah, I wasn’t even sure. I was like I knew post covered. I was like, I want to change that thought post. Exactly. But like, I understand what they mean just in terms of like, these are the new rules. But but post isn’t quite it because that would imply that like it’s done. I agree. By the way, with the letter writer, I think that they should not try to get an exception to the Mascaro. I don’t I, I think the better way to look for.

S5: Margins is to find ways to not have to go to places where you need a mask rather than trying to get an exception, not because they don’t think you’re your need to not wear a mask is serious and legitimate, but but because of the possible health risks to yourself and to others. I think the better compromise is to look for ways to avoid places where you have to wear a mask and to only do it when it’s absolutely unavoidable. And also to see I mentioned this a while back on the I think in the column to somebody who had a really sensitive gag reflex and wearing any kind of mouth covering really triggered it. A lot of places are also selling now face shields, which like you can kind of wear a visor and this plastic shield comes down and envelops your face in in such a way that you may be able to wear that as an alternative to a mask.

S3: And that could also bring up other sensory issues. And it might not be a perfect alternative. It also may mean you you could still wear that some places and they might still say it has to be a mask. But I wonder if that is one compromise of several that might make some things a little bit easier to bear if it were like an absolute emergency and you had to go out.

S4: Yeah. You know, the alternative, right, is I’ve been seeing maybe this person might be able to find these services, too, but like on on like community message boards, like on Facebook or next door. And even I’ve seen flyers around my neighborhood where people have volunteered to do shopping for people who can’t do the shopping themselves or are unable to in other ways, look into that as well, because they’re not official delivery services. But if they’re there might be some people that you can either hire or enlist who can help you with the groceries.

S3: Yeah, I think it’s good to look at multiple avenues. Like, I agree, like mainly I think it sounds like what the letter writer wants is a couple of different things. One is, are there ways that I can safely establish independent living? And then if not, what do I do? So I hope, at least for right now, it sounds like living with your your family is going OK. And so part of what you just need right now is permission to put off moving into the condo until you feel at least like you have some support underneath you do that. Absolutely. Do not push yourself into moving into the condo if if you have other options.

S4: No, totally. Like I am I’m not ready to even eat in a restaurant. So, like, if a condo move feels even huger than that.

S5: Yeah. And then beyond that, I think reaching out to maybe if you have any mutual AIDS in your area and asking if there’s anybody who’s able to run those errands for you, if you can reimburse them afterwards. A lot of people in, for example, like my mutual aid do that. We have people volunteer to do every day.

S3: That’s one possibility, depending on where you live. It sounds like if there’s not grocery delivery where the letter writer lives, then they may be somewhere that’s more rural or isolated. And then I would say somy or other options might be, you know, asking if any of your family members, depending on how far away the condo is, might be willing to incorporate your weekly grocery list into their regular run and drop some of the items off, if that’s possible. Beyond that, I think. Checking in with your friends, seeing if they would be up for doing a kind of like a rotating group thing, but really get a sense of where that support might come from. And if you don’t have a really clear answer and you want to just put off making that move for a little while longer, please feel free.

S4: Yeah. And I mean, if if, you know, enlisting the help of family or friends or a volunteer feels like a little weird, because I know, you know from the letter that this person is really trying for independence and like really is invested in that idea, which is a very important idea. I think paying someone for those services isn’t out of the question as well, even if they’re not part of an official app or whatever. Right. Could also just hire someone.

S3: Yeah. Yeah. Doesn’t necessarily have to like especially if it’s like a friend or a family member. It could just be about like reimbursing them for the additional gas or they just kind of like make it clear that you appreciate that this is work that they’re helping you with. And and then maybe you would also feel a little bit less vulnerable that you’re depending solely on somebody else’s like goodwill in the moment.

S4: Right. Yes. It doesn’t necessarily have to feel like a chore, like a charity thing if you’re not comfortable with that. There are ways in which you can make it reciprocal.

S3: Yeah. Yeah. And I just wish you the best. That’s genuinely incredibly daunting and having difficulty, like with grocery shopping and mask wearing and following all the new rules and dealing with any kind of sensory issues on top of that. Totally understand why you find that daunting. And I really hope that you’re able to find a strategy that does not involve you having to every week go in and just like do your best when you’re feeling completely pulled apart.

S4: Yeah. I mean, if anything, I think the pandemic has made a lot of people realize how truly dependent they are on everyone else. And, you know, in ways that are generative, but also kind of disturbing.

S3: Yeah, difficult. Hugely. Hugely. You’re so not alone. And I think one of the other things that I hear coming up a lot is just different ways in which like certain accommodations that like various companies or people or groups have previously said we’re impossible are now a matter. Of course. And so this kind of just. I feel like one thing there’s just sort of opportunity for right now is at least to spend a little bit more time thinking about, like, what if we treated, you know, public places, public spaces as something that like we need to collectively ensure equal access to for real. And I hope that you’ve got people in your life who can help you with that. And for everyone else, I hope they can at least stop cooking for people who hate their cooking.

S4: That is like that was a kind of constant threat and this wasn’t it.

S5: Yeah. Like, very different specifics. But yeah, big a big threat in this week’s episode was like someone I live with hates the way that I cook.

S4: Tragic. It’s so sad.

S1: Yes. But at least you and I don’t have any problems. Yes. Right. Right. Fine. We’re. We’re doing perfectly. And I just think that’s terrific.

S4: Well, thank you for letting me answer all these questions with you. Thank you so much for coming. I look forward to being on your podcast on Wednesday. Yeah.

S6: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence. Our producers fill circus. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton.

S2: Don’t miss an episode of the show.

S7: Head to Slate dot com slash Dear Prudence to subscribe. And remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus go to Slate dot com slash pretty pod to sign up if you want me to answer your question. Call me and leave a message for zero one three seven one, dear. That’s three three two seven. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location. And at your request, we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short, 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.

S1: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday. I worry that you’re getting ahead of yourselves. And I wonder, have you really looked at, like, the exposure rates in the place that you’re traveling to? Do you have a sense of how on earth you would make this visit while also adhering to appropriate social distancing, which still means like covering your face and avoiding close contact and keeping six feet of physical distance from others? Are you going to be able to do that with what sounds like a four or five year old niece?

S4: Right. And I keep thinking about that sentence. Right. Quality time is the whole point of the trip. And if that’s the whole point of the trip, maybe don’t make the trip right now to listen to the rest of that conversation. Joint Slate plus now at Slate dot com forward slash Prudy Pod.