DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a colleague who seems to spend a great deal of time goofing off. He's always spreading gossip, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the team doesn't care much for him.

Every month we post a list of birthdays in the office kitchen area; it was his birthday last month, and his name was not on the list. This dude was so upset about it that he found a Sharpie and wrote his name on the list. I found this to be tacky, but I ignored it. However, I don't know how much longer I can ignore his bad behavior. Just last week as I was using the restroom, he came in looking for me. He called out my name and knocked on the stall I was in. He also has a habit of texting me while I'm at work on his days off just to see what's going on in the office. He also texts me on my days off.

Last Friday we all went out for happy hour, and he was there. He left early, which was great; however, he left without paying his bar tab. I'm to the point where I feel the need to talk to our manager about this guy, except I feel he might lose his job because of all the mistakes he's made at work. What do I do? -- Baby-Sitting My Co-Worker, Cincinnati

DEAR BABY-SITTING MY CO-WORKER: Before you report this man to your boss, speak directly to him. Tell him to chill out. Point out what worries you about his behavior. Give him examples of his gossiping and how it makes people feel bad.

Recognize that it wasn't kind for his birthday to go unacknowledged. Tell him you understand that this hurt his feelings, but it may have happened because he annoys people. Ask him to stop randomly texting you on days off. Suggest that he hunker down, do his job and have patience that in time he will make friends. 

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother expects me to call her every single day. My schedule is not predictable, and I have never been one to do the same thing day in and day out. I love my mother, but I'm never going to be able to live up to this expectation. I want to show her how much I love her and want to be there for her. How can I do that in a way that I can maintain? Anything that has to happen every single day is not going to work. -- Loving My Mama, Boston

DEAR LOVING MY MAMA: Your mother knows you, so it's likely that she understands what your limits are. A compromise could be a weekly call at a particular day and time that works for both of you. This gives her a specific time to look forward to and you less of a strict commitment to fulfill. Set an alarm on your clock or watch to ensure that you fulfill this weekly engagement.

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