Q. A co-worker came to work today with a tick buried under the skin of his
hand, for which he had not sought medical assistance. Instead, he came to work and asked another coworker to use a pocket knife and help him cut it out. This took place in front of two other co-workers who appeared amused and offered advice in this surgical procedure. Collectively these four individuals finally decided that they were in over
their heads and advised the infected co-worker to finally seek a doctor.
Tell me, am I delusional in thinking these people were out of line?
R. O., Methuen, MA
A. Yes, R. O., they were out of line. First and foremost, they risked causing serious harm to the tick bitten co-worker. The risk of infection from the tick itself as well as from the knife is both real and dangerous. In addition, if the tick carried Lyme or other tick-born diseases, the long–term health consequences could be very serious. Obviously, your co-worker used poor judgment when he failed to seek medical assistance in the first place.
From the etiquette point of view, performing the “operation” in public showed a complete lack of awareness of the sensibilities of others. Any potentially “gross” activity should be taken care of in private. From the business point of view, the disruption it caused distracted other workers from their primary task—getting their work done—not to mention putting the business itself at risk as the “operation” was carried out while on the job.
Q. When writing an e-mail to a group of people, should names always be listed alphabetically or by hierarchy. Often after the first couple of “ranked” people, the remainder of the addressees are peers. In that case should I first list the president, then vice president, and then all the subordinates in alpha order?
Am I making this a bigger deal than is necessary?
C.W. Needham, MA
A. It’s a good idea to take care both with the “rank” and the spelling of people’s names. The hybrid of listing “ranked people” first followed by peers in alphabetical order makes the most sense.