Dear Urban Diplomat: Do I have to pay the babysitter minimum wage when he’s just eating my food and watching my Netflix?

I think a small honorarium should be plenty

My partner and I recently started paying a neighbourhood teen to watch our toddler a couple of times a month so we can have date nights. We normally go for a couple of hours and often leave after our child has gone to sleep. My wife insists we pay the babysitter minimum wage, but he’s basically just getting paid to sit there, watch our Netflix and snack from the fridge. Shouldn’t a small honorarium—I’m thinking $20 max—be enough? —Minimum Rage, East York

Child care, in almost any other form, would cost you a lot more than minimum wage, so why cheap out when it comes to a sitter? The kid is doing the bare minimum, and that’s exactly what your wife is suggesting you pay in return. I’m sure he’d rather be with his friends than hanging out on your couch making TikToks beside the baby monitor. Throwing him a few extra bucks won’t bankrupt you—and it might just make him extra careful with your precious cargo.

Dear Urban Diplomat, My co-worker started dating a stand-up comedian about a month ago. The other night, I was at a show and I recognized him from the pictures she’d shown us. I was excited to see him perform, until he launched into a sex joke about his current relationship. I’m not sure if my colleague knows she’s being talked about in this way on stage. I wouldn’t say we’re close friends, but we talk about our personal lives a bit at work. Should I tell her she’s the subject of a risqué stand-up set? —Comic Relief, Trinity-Bellwoods

Whether or not you should get involved depends on the content of the material. If the bit was crass, degrading, mean-spirited or otherwise hurtful, then yes, give your co-worker a gentle heads up. It’s the kind (if awkward) thing to do, and I imagine you’d want her to do the same for you. But it’s possible that she already knows about his raunchy set. Maybe the joke isn’t about her in the first place or maybe she doesn’t care. After all, when you date a comic, being the fodder for their material comes with the territory.

Dear Urban Diplomat, I head up the PTA meetings at my child’s school. One of the mothers recently suggested we start each month off with a land acknowledgment. I’m all for inclusion, but these sessions are already quite long, and I’m not convinced this type of pre-meeting ritual brings about meaningful change. We’re supposed to vote on the matter in the next couple weeks. Am I wrong to vote no? —Land Sakes, Forest Hill

It’s true that land acknowledgments won’t do anything to immediately relieve generations of colonialism, but they’re a sign of respect and a chance to reflect on what was stolen from Indigenous peoples. They can be brief, too, often consisting of a short statement about the applicable nation. Indigenous communities have waited centuries for reparations. What’s a couple of minutes out of your month?

Dear Urban Diplomat, After reading all those stories about tainted water in the Star, I did some research and found out that my apartment has lead pipes. I brought it to my landlord’s attention, and he said he knew about the problem but didn’t think it was a big deal. I’d survived so far, right? Well, I’d rather not be guzzling toxins with every glass of tap water. Is there something I can do? —Tapped Out, Mississauga

Your landlord’s response was a resounding shrug—and regrettably the city’s will be, too. While it’s perfectly reasonable to want to avoid chugging tainted H2O, there’s nothing you can do to make your landlord take action: no Canadian laws compel property owners to disclose or replace lead pipes. Your best bet is to see if he’ll reimburse you for a good filter, which should sift out the unhealthy levels of lead.


Dear Urban Diplomat, For the past few months, my office has been using the hot-desking system, where people pick different spots to sit throughout the day. Most of my co-workers are cool with it, but I like to use one particular desk near the window. It’s kind of become my thing. Recently, a new hire started taking my spot, and she arrives quite early in the morning. Should I tell her to stay out of my space, or just start swapping desks like the rest of the office? —Undersharer, Milliken

Of course you like a window seat. Few people prefer to wallow in the office’s inner corners when they can score a few rays of natural light, especially during these sun-deprived winter months. It’s fair to ask your co-worker not to be a total desk hog, but only if you plan on sharing, too. Suggest the two of you alternate mornings, and be open to someone else eventually asking for their turn. Showing a little goodwill around the office will do more for your productivity than hunkering down in the corner.


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