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Avoiding a wild workplace romance

Dear Annie: I never thought I’d write to you, but I have no one else to ask. I work part time as a customer service representative. Like me, all of my co-workers are mostly retired women except for one man who is our age, “John.” He’s been in our department for about two years. A year ago, he began having a friendship, for lack of a better word, with the only 30-something woman in our department. He divorced his wife of 40-plus years and moved in with “Mary” and her husband. The relationship between Mary and this older man has become more intimate and secretive. We’ve all just kept our distance.

Last summer, Mary and her husband maxed out their credit cards to build a basement apartment in their home for John. Mary’s husband used to visit her at work often and bring her coffee, but he stopped doing that months ago. According to Mary, all he does is work long hours and then come home and sleep. I have known Mary and her husband since they were kids, and this doesn’t sound like him.

Yesterday at work I noticed John on a webpage of a bank account (on a shared computer!), and I realized it was Mary’s account. He spent hours surfing around her bank account, minimizing it during lunch or when helping customers. I eventually asked him what he was doing, and he said he was paying bills online. I don’t know if he was paying Mary’s bills or his own out of her account, but I was horrified.

What do I do, if anything? This 60-something man has wedged himself between a young married couple and is taking over their lives. I don’t care what Mary does, but I’m concerned about her husband. Suggestions? — Co-Worker Conundrum

Dear Co-Worker Conundrum: Your concern is understandable. It’s also misplaced. Whatever bizarre love triangle these three have going, it’s between them.

Now, that being said, you mentioned that you’ve known Mary’s husband since he was a kid. You might reach out to him as a friend, just to see how he’s doing. Don’t ask him about the situation with his wife and John. Keep the conversation general and light.

Lastly, should you feel the (understandable) urge to gossip with others about all this, bite your tongue until the feeling passes.

Editor’s note: Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com. To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.