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Trouble With Naptime at the Office, and Not Just With My Co-worker's Kids

Q: I have a co-worker who falls asleep at her desk every afternoon. I’d like a little paid nap too, but I feel like a tattletale bringing this up to our supervisor. It does, however, feel unjust to me. Should I just wake her up every day, ignore it or do something else?

A: “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest – Then poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like a brigand.” (Proverbs 24:33)

Would you really like a paid nap? Employers tend not to pay a premium rate for them. Trade in your irritation for motivation to be ever more diligent in your own work and enjoy the rewards that come with productive work. Remember the admonition in Proverbs 10:4, “The slack hand impoverishes, but the busy hand brings riches.”

It’s easy to fixate on a co-worker’s laxity, and you’re better than that. Forget about reforming her or reporting her. That’s not your job and you’d be asking for trouble. Again from Proverbs: “Whoever meddles in the quarrel of another is one who grabs a passing dog by the ears.” (26:17) Your feeling of injustice is commendable, but this “quarrel” is really between the employee and supervisor. Let it take its natural course; as for you, let sleeping dogs lie.

Q: My co-worker often brings his kids to the office after school, or on a snow day. For the most part, they sit quietly in his office and read or play video games, but I just don’t feel it’s appropriate to have kids in the office. Am I off-base?

A: You’re not off-base.

This is a good example of the type of irritant that gets people thinking about starting their own business. The office is not a library or video arcade. Offices are designed for adults who get paid to do the work that adults do. It’s inappropriate to regularly bring children into the workplace.

But since it’s apparently not an issue with your employer, it’s doubtful you will have success raising the subject with your supervisor. It sounds like the kids are not disruptive and your work is not undermined. You might do best to simply make your peace with it. Or start thinking about starting your own business – probably not day care.

Q: I work in an environment where making any mistake at all is not tolerated. It’s making me a nervous wreck – how do I cope?

A: Don’t.

Your nervous-wreck condition is telling you volumes about your tolerance to work in a mistake-free zone. Pursue other employment or a line of work without that kind of pressure.

Jim Berlucchi is the executive director of the Spitzer Center, whose mission is to build cultures of evangelization (