Saturday, December 4News That Matters

I Shouldn’t Tell My Employer I’m Vaccinated, Right?

The large company I work for has offices throughout the United States. After Covid vaccines became available, a companywide email went out encouraging employees to send in pictures of our vaccination cards that would entitle us to a free gift card from an online retailer. I think this policy tricks employees into “telling on themselves” if they don’t get the vaccine and allows the company to track us. I am creeped out by this invasion of privacy! At the same time, I just moved into a new apartment and have never needed extra funds more than now. I am vaccinated, and the gift cards already exist. How hypocritical would I be to participate in a program that I thoroughly disapprove of?


I think you misunderstand capitalism. Your large employer wants to make you (and its customers!) feel safe enough to return to the office and keep coming in for one reason: That’s how it makes money! The lifesaving vaccine is just a means to a (more profitable) end.

As for the gift card program, I see no problem with it. It creates a voluntary incentive for workers to contribute to the safety of the labor pool. You aren’t required to participate. And your employer still has to figure out how to keep unvaccinated workers and visitors safe while on company premises.

Now, I expect we will soon see legal challenges to mandatory vaccination requirements by employers; the right to refuse the vaccines is built into their emergency use authorizations. But that’s a question for another day. Also, you’re broke! If I were you, I’d swap a picture of my vaccine record for a gift card any day. It’s a win-win situation.

Credit…Christoph Niemann

My husband and I set up 529 college savings accounts for our two nieces and nephew to cover a year of tuition and expenses at a state school. But their parents are well off; they’ll pay for college. We learned recently, though, that our nephew’s girlfriend of two years will be responsible for almost all of her college expenses. We’ve never met her, but we’re considering offering her financial help. We recognize the potential pitfalls: complicating her relationship with our nephew and our relationships with other family members. What would you do?


I love your generosity of spirit! The ever-rising costs of college are a huge barrier to the advancement of many talented young people. Still, I would approach this differently. Rather than complicating a stranger’s high-school romance (not to mention your family relationships) with money, consider heading to the local high school instead.

Talk to an administrator about creating one or more grants for needy students who want to pursue higher education. You can even help choose the beneficiaries. (Perhaps your nephew’s girlfriend will be one of them.) However you decide to proceed, though, you’ll be making a big difference.

My partner and I are getting married next year. We don’t want children under 16 at our wedding. (Kids running around don’t seem fun to us.) This won’t be a problem for most of the invited families. But a few are a coming from long distances. In one case, it would mean excluding just one of several children. There’s also a single parent of a 10-year-old. How do we tell these people nicely that we really want them to come but leave their kids at home?


Tread gently here. You have every right to create your own guest list. But parents tend to be attached to their children. (Go figure!) In the old days, addressing invitations just to those invited would have done the trick. Not today, though. Some families assume that their kids are also welcome, especially if they have to travel for the big event.

Personally, I dislike “adults only” language on invitations, no matter how kindly phrased. It can be jarring. Make a few phone calls instead. Tell the parents that you and your partner want an adult wedding and reception. Then add: “If it’s hard for you to travel without the kids, we’ve arranged for some fun activities and hired a few sitters to watch them.” State your reasonable preference, but offer a practical solution, too.

My ex and I broke up last year. It was a mutual decision, and there are no hard feelings. Now, I’ve begun to date again. During our relationship, my ex gave me a beautiful silver necklace. I put it away for a few months while my feelings were tender, but now I’ve brought it out again. How weird is it to wear this necklace around future boyfriends? If they ask where I got it, can I be honest?


Think of it this way: The relationship didn’t work out, but the necklace did! You’re wearing it again because it’s beautiful, not because you’re pining for your ex. So, why purge it from your wardrobe? In the (unlikely) event that someone asks where it came from, name-check the jewelry store and move on.

For help with your awkward situation, send a question to, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.