You can still wear masks in meetings

I will also say this – I imagine that if other arrangements were possible, I would have already made them. Perhaps her attitude was not so much entitlement as despair. Another way to look at this is to ask yourself what you wish if the situation reversed. How would you like your co-worker to help you? If you’re feeling generous, I’d suggest talking to this coworker and finding out why she needs to leave early so you can tackle an option rather than an obligation that isn’t your right at all.

I notice that out of office messages now generally have an “out of office” or “out of office” subject line. I think it’s important to normalize taking leave – and in fact I don’t work while on vacation, so I’ve been using that as my subject line when I take vacation (eg, “on vacation; back in DATE.”). Using “non-holiday” language has some advantages because it doesn’t say when people are most likely to be out for medical reasons or family leave, and I want people to be able to keep this private and not ask me why I’m out of the office if I don’t tell them. I wonder if I should rethink my solo campaign to make the holidays visible.

Deborah, Berkeley, Calif.

No need to rethink your campaign. If people want to be vague about being out of the office, for whatever reason, they can and will want to. For those of us who want to normalize the holidays, something everyone totally deserves, this is a way to take a small but important stand. There is more to life than work. It’s also an incredibly healthy bound to say you’re not at work and won’t be doing work while you’re on vacation. More people should take vacations that are already vacations and more people should have the means to do so. I hope your next vacation will be as comfortable and clean as you want it to be.

I work for a small business made up entirely of women in their twenties and thirties, apart from the founder and CEO, a man in his late forties. Each year, our team managers ask for contributions to purchase a birthday present and Christmas gift for our CEO. The contributions they suggest for each small gift ($10 per person), are technically optional and the managers make the rest out of their own pockets.

But something about this still rubs me the wrong way. The messages about these gifts are always that we thank him for everything he does for us, but frankly he is a somewhat elusive leader. We do not buy group gifts for anyone else. He probably makes a little more money than the rest of us. Am I thinking about this? If not, should I talk about it to my manager, or should I just leave him because the contributions are supposed to be voluntary and are only $20 a year? I’m not sure if my co-workers feel the same way and I was too afraid to bring it up lest I be seen as being unkind.

– Anonymous

I love giving gifts. As cheesy as it sounds, gift giving is my love language. But I never want to feel compelled to give gifts, especially to people with whom I don’t have some kind of personal relationship. To this end, it is not inappropriate not to want to give the CEO of your company a gift. The power imbalance between you and your CEO is significant. The income difference is also important. He is not your friend. He won’t love you because you and your co-workers give him gifts twice a year.

I understand why your team did this but the tacit commitment would piss me off. Occasionally, you can ask your colleagues how they feel about giving this gift to help you decide how, if any, to proceed. These kinds of things are very difficult because if you resist such a “voluntary” obligatory gift, you’re not a team player and you don’t fit into the culture etc. These are hard labels to get rid of, so I understand your reluctance to say anything. This might be one of the things you just have to put up with, but it sure is silly for people to play these kinds of games in the workplace.

Roxanne Jay He is the recent author of Hunger and a contributing opinion writer. write her on workfriend@nytimes.com.

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