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Jewish World Review March 28, 2001 / 4 Nissan, 5761

Workstyle by Paula Bern

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Consumer Reports

Too many kids hawking stuff ... working at home ... candy -- Q: We recently moved into a bedroom community near our company headquarters. Because of its proximity to the workplace, three other couples have bought homes here, too. The problem is that they all have youngsters in Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and/or Little league. (I'm sure there are a few groups I've overlooked here, but you get the idea.) At one time or another all of them are selling cookies, candy bars or other such stuff to benefit their troop or team. There are weekends when it is a steady parade of kids at my door, each kid lugging merchandise. I don't want six boxes of mint cookies and four chocolate almond bars. I do have to work alongside the parents and I don't want to be thought of a Scrooge. But how can I cut back (and lose a few pounds in the process) by not feeling compelled to buy? -Eleanor, Jackson, Mich.

A: Take a stand and not give in to the children's pleas. You're not going to buy their parents' friendship or goodwill at the office by loading up on Girl Scout cookies. If you truly don't want what the youngsters are selling, just tell them that while you enjoy seeing them, the merchandise isn't something that you want or need. Of course you don't want to hurt their feelings, but life does have its disappointments and you can't solve them this way.

Q: I have two small children and would like to work from home rather than take an office job. A friend suggested I look into a job as a systems analyst but I have absolutely no idea what this might entail. The person said this might be ideal at this time of my life. Have you any recommendation? -Emma, Monkton, Md.

A: I don't have any hints as to your pre-kids work background, but I can tell you a job such as this requires considerable knowledge about both business and technology. As a system analyst you would have to come up with methods, using computers and software, to make a company run more efficiently. You would have to understand the company's overall business strategy and work closely with management before choosing the right system or recommending software packages. You probably would work on a contract basis and earn between $35 to $150 an hour, depending on the project. A degree in information systems would be helpful.

With this sort of position, you have fairly strong control over your hours. And Priscilla Claman, president of Career Strategies in Boston, says system analysts at the entry level can earn about $47,000 a year.

Q: What is the protocol for helping yourself to candies sitting on a barber's shelf? I recently started going to a unisex barber shop and it's usually on my lunch hour, which means I'm starving. The barber never says, "Have one," but he sucks on a butterscotch the whole time I'm there. The dish of hard candies is on his back shelf, alongside his sprays, hair gels and men's cologne. It may be that the guy keeps them there as a part of his personal stock. Would it be OK to ask for one or should I just keep my mouth shut? -Jim, King of Prussia, Pa.

A: If you're that hungry when you go for a haircut it might be simpler to take along a sandwich and a piece of fruit. I would tend to suspect that you'd be correct in assuming that they are his candies, which he keeps on his private shelf. Otherwise, I suspect they'd be placed more toward the customers areas.

03/22/01: Express lane miscreant ... wife needs a life
03/15/01: Explaining gap in resume ... therapist ... unemployed
03/07/01: Rude public...venegeful man...whining speeder
02/20/01: Computers and preschoolers ... rude bank customers
02/13/01: Hooked on subliminal tapes ...picking up the tab

Dr. Paula Bern has taught executive seminars at Carnegie-Mellon University. Comment by clicking here.


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