Life Advice



Ask Amy: Conference attendee has a professional beef

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I attended a professional conference recently.

The attendees from my company were the president, the executive director, a co-worker, and myself.

The president and executive director invited my co-worker and myself out for dinner.

During these large conventions, it is rare to be able to sit down for more than 20 minutes and have a balanced meal. This made the dinner event really nice for us, and I appreciated it.

Prior to ordering, the conversation turned to, “What will you have?”

When I stated that I wanted the chicken soup, I was scolded by my coworker, who exclaimed: “These people are vegetarian!” (gesturing to the president and executive director). This was not stated discreetly.

Was it wrong of me to order the meal I wanted and that would sustain me for the five hours of events taking place after dinner?

Do my dietary restrictions and concerns take a back seat when the boss is picking up the tab?

– Need Protein to Function

Dear Need Protein: Your co-worker took the opportunity to demonstrate an advanced level of personal knowledge of your bosses, in order to curry flavor (excuse the pun) with these professional superiors.

Flaunting this knowledge is professionally risky – and rude.

In bringing you to this convention, the people who run your company have given you and your co-worker an opportunity to positively and responsibly represent the organization. Loudly scolding another person at lunch is anti-social.

Your co-worker’s rudeness made you uncomfortable. This behavior also highlighted a dietary choice that some people might consider personal, possibly also making them uncomfortable.

I hope your bosses responded to this by letting you know that they have no beef with you regarding your own choices.

Your colleague’s effort to suck up by shaming you is extremely unappetizing.

Dear Amy: My closest friend from college is getting married in the fall. He has asked me to be his best man.

The problem is that I don’t want to. The main issue is that this wedding is already shaping up to be very time consuming and expensive. I am graduating from law school, working and studying for the bar exam, and I cannot imagine being able to commit fully to this.

In addition to the wedding itself, he wants me to organize a three-day “stag” party, either in Las Vegas or Wyoming (for fly fishing).

The wedding itself will be a three-day-long event, involving travel, the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, and a brunch afterward.

Just thinking about it exhausts me.

Is there a good way to say “no” to this without insulting my friend or harming the friendship?


– Not the Best Best Man

Dear Not the Best Man: Bridezillas and Frankengrooms, take note!

Overall, culturally, I wonder when marrying couples will realize that their attendants have reached the breaking point.

This issue used to be mainly confined to the bride and her attendants (or maybe they just talked about it more).

I have noticed an increase in concerns like yours expressed by men who are feeling the social, personal and economic squeeze of being an attendant.

Your best friend’s wedding is scheduled for several months from now.

Tell him right away that you can’t do this. Preface this tough conversation by telling him how honored you are, but tell him, quite honestly, that you do not have the bandwidth to take on any organizing duties.

Are you available and interested in being a groomsman? If so, let him know, but emphasize that you realize the decision is his to make, and that you will feel honored to attend the wedding as a guest.

You might offer to include his grandmother as your “plus-one” and to prepare and deliver a toast, if he would like.

Dear Amy: “Engaged and Worried” didn’t ask his much-younger brother to be in his wedding. Your response was spot on!

I too had a brother 12 years younger, and I headed off to college and the service when he was only six. Although he meant a lot to me, the vast difference in our ages and outlook was always too much to completely erase.

It is still a major source of regret.

Nevertheless, he was an important part of my wedding, a decision which has grown in significance now that he is gone.

He died of AIDS in his 30s, and left a hole in my life.

Jim, I still miss you and will love you always.

– Loving Brother

Dear Loving Brother: Here’s to Jim. RIP, dear brother.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2024 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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