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Dear Jido,

My boss has taken to drinking behind his closed office door. He begins as soon as he gets to work and continues throughout the day. His work output has decreased and I don’t have much to do. He is pretty incoherent by three, and I cover for him.
I leave at five and I have no idea what happens when he gets home – he is married and has a few children. This has been going on for six months. I don’t know whether I should talk to his wife, his managing partner, or just to him?
I really don’t want to go back to the Administrative Pool either. Please advise…

Signed, A Concerned Employee

Dear Concerned,

Alcoholism has become a growing problem in our community – not only for men, but also for women and teenage boys and girls. When some people hear the word “alcoholic,” they think of your typical drunk lying in the street. Not always. There is a phenomenon called a “high functioning alcoholic.” These people often seem to have everything going for them. They drink too much, but they excel at work and have good relationships with family and friends. Their success often works against them, making them think they have their drinking under control based upon the perceived normalcy around them. Eventually, whether it takes months or years, alcoholism catches up with them. Unfortunately, your boss seems to fit the profile.

The fact that he is your boss, not your husband, brother, or friend, can make it hard to approach him about having a “problem” with alcohol. But, as you realize, it is impossible to continue drinking heavily for a long period of time without suffering the physical and emotional consequences that eventually result.

You might actually be doing him a disservice by “covering up” for him. By doing so, you are inadvertently encouraging and enabling him to continue drinking, by helping him to avoid its negative consequences. Therefore, you should first discuss with him how concerned you are for his welfare. When he tells you it is none of your business, insist that it is. Do some homework and read to him the effects it can have on his heart, his liver, his family, and his job. When he insists that he knows but there is nothing he CAN do about it, then refer him to SBH, AA, the National Center for Disease Control, or his rabbi.

If he says there is nothing he WANTS to do about it, then, in my humble opinion, you have the obligation to save his life and speak to his boss, his wife, or his rabbi.

If he demotes you back to the Administrative Pool, well then, that is a small price to pay for saving a life.

Don’t give up – you are doing the right thing.

Jido

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Dear Jido

My husband sold his business two years ago and made enough money to retire. The problem is that he’s only 36. He now spends his time doing mostly leisurely activities: playing sports and video games or hanging out with friends. This seemed fine for the first few months, but I feel like he needs to be more productive. He feels like his early retirement is a well-earned reward and that nothing is wrong with his new lifestyle. How can I convince him to act like a grownup again?

Sincerely,

Mrs. Retired

Dear Mrs. Retired,

Retired at the age of 36? Wow, your husband must have smarts, talent and mazalif he was able to accomplish that at such a young age! You might call his trajectory an “American Success” story.

Of course, everyone has their own definition of “success”. For some, it’s all about making money.
For others, it’s about making friends.  Andfor others it means making a difference.

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, says the world stands on three things – Torah, Avodah and
Gemilut Hassadim.

A life of Torah means using every spare moment to delve into the depths of Hashem’s words. Of course, not everyone is cut out to do that.

Avodah, in this context, means prayer and devotion. It also means working hard, L’Shem Shamayim, to support one’s family and community. Your husband obviously accomplished that.

And Gemilut Hassadimmeans giving of yourself to help others; giving back your time, your expertise and your resources, each to the extent that you are able. What a blessing it would be for other young men of our community to benefit from your husband’s experience and to follow in his footsteps.

You are concerned that your husband is not being “productive” right now.  Consider that he did something right in building his business and flipping it for a profit. A person with that level of ability will likely not be satisfied remaining idle for long. He will want, and needto get back to a life of challenge for his own well-being. An agile mind will want to remain active.

It is possible that the last few years building his company were hard and grueling and that is why he considersthis brief respite a well-earned reward. It could also be that, at the same time that your husband is “hanging out,” he is also networking for other business opportunities.

The best way to find out what is really going on inside his mind is to talk to himabout his long-term goals. His answers will likely put you at ease. If not, carefully suggest some valuable short-term activities to him – early morning classes with his peers at Shaare Zion, consulting with the Exceed Network of Bikur Holim or teaching abusiness course in our high schools.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Trust me, your husband knows that.

Keep in touch,

Jido

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