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Dear Annie: Eyes on the clock

Dear Annie: I’ve had my current job for four years. I work at a small company of about 20 employees. My co-worker, “Beth,” has been here about a year longer than me. She joined my department about six months ago. One thing I appreciate about my department is our work-life balance. We care about our work, but we also care about having time for our families and other interests outside of work. I will, of course, stay late when there’s something urgent or important that I need to get done or if a co-worker needs help with something. But that only happens maybe once a month. Even then, I rarely stay more than an hour later.

Beth previously worked in a department of self-professed workaholics. They pride themselves on regularly working 11-hour days. She’s brought that attitude with her to my little department, and it’s upsetting the reasonable dynamics.

I leave work around 6:05 p.m. or 6:10 p.m. (My day ends at 6 p.m.) We work in an open office, so my co-workers can see when I’m taking off for the day. Every day, without fail, I see Beth looking up at the clock in the corner of her computer screen or glancing down at her watch. It drives me bonkers. I hate feeling like she’s judging me.

I’ve thought about casually mentioning all I’ve accomplished throughout the day as I get ready to head out, but then I realize that would be silly. It’s not as though she’s my boss. (My boss, by the way, leaves around the same time as me, though from her separate office.)

How would you handle this? — I Like My Evenings, Thanks

Dear ILMET: It’s time for you to stop caring about whatever Beth may think about you — which you really don’t know one way or the other. Perhaps she always looks at the clock when you get up to leave because she’s thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe it’s already 6.”

Working late does not necessarily mean working hard. If you can get all your work done within normal hours, that means you’re efficient. If Beth enjoys staying late at work every night, let her knock herself out.

Dear Annie: We have been living in our house for more than 30 years and have always had pets. We’ve never had a mouse problem in the house — until now. This has been a very cold winter, and I saw a tiny mouse in the kitchen sink several weeks ago. I turned the water on and didn’t see the mouse for weeks, but this week I have heard mouse noises and seen evidence of cat treat bags bitten or scratched open, and our cat’s food and treats tampered with. Is there anything I can do to get rid of the mouse (or mice) without endangering our cat? — Karen in Kansas City, MO

Dear Karen in Kansas City: When nature comes inside, there are natural ways to show it the door. For mice, deterrents include the wonderful-smelling peppermint oil and the not-so-wonderful-smelling bobcat urine. (You can find predator urine at home improvement stores and online.) Some also have reported success with Tabasco sauce.

Be sure to keep your house extra clean. Store pet food in airtight plastic containers. Plug any holes that might be mouse entryways with steel wool, the one material that they cannot chew through.

See the Humane Society’s “Humane Rodent Solutions” page for more tips on nontoxic methods of mouse removal (https://www.hsi.org/news-media/humane-rodent-solutions).

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