Dear Urban Diplomat: My employer is making everyone go back to the office

Dear Urban Diplomat, After months of staff surveys and virtual committee meetings, my bosses finally unveiled our back-to-the-office plan—and it’s awful. Starting next month, we’re all expected to be on-site from nine to five every day. I was really hoping for a flexible workweek upon our return. How can I convince the higher-ups to change their (lack of a) WFH policy? —Remote Chance, Vaughan

You’re probably not the only employee chafing at the back-to-work plan. According to a recent poll, only one in five Canadians who have been working from home wants to return to their pre-pandemic office schedule. Presumably, your employers know this and have opted for the full-time return regardless, so any attempt to change their minds will probably be in vain. The good news: plenty of other Canadian companies are now allowing their employees to work remotely. If you’re willing to switch jobs, somewhere out there is the pyjama-friendly employer of your dreams.

Dear Urban Diplomat, When the Leafs imploded in the playoffs last season, my roommate—a lifelong, diehard fan—absolutely lost it. He punched a hole in our drywall, threw out his jerseys and spent a week sulking in his bedroom. After that, he swore to me that he was done with the Leafs. But now that the 2021-22 season is approaching, he’s raving about the team’s new signings. I know where this is going. Should I say something before the Leafs blow it and ruin his life (and mine) again? —Nipping It in the Buds, Etobicoke

Cheering for the Leafs is sort of like rewatching Titanic. It always starts with hope and optimism, but no matter how much you root for everyone involved, it’s only a matter of time before things go terribly wrong. If you want to help your friend escape this miserable cycle, remind him how things ended last year—and the 50-odd years before that. Then try showing him that the Leafs aren’t the only game in town by taking him to a Jays game or watching the Raptors together. But don’t expect a miracle. A true Leafs fan will jump blindly aboard that ship every season, certain that this will be the year it doesn’t sink, only to hit a massive iceberg and end up at the bottom of the ocean.

Dear Urban Diplomat, I live across the street from a public parking lot. Every couple of weeks, a bunch of souped-up cars—think racing decals, tinted windows, noisy mufflers—meet there and speed off together down the street, revving their engines and leaving tire marks. I’m pretty sure they’re some kind of street racing club. It’s incredibly obnoxious, not to mention dangerous. What should I do? —Driven to Despair, North York

Street racers are an urban menace, and they’re proliferating. The number of stunt driving charges handed out in Ontario has been on the rise since 2015, with a big spike during the pandemic. Fortunately, both the city and the province ramped up their anti-racing efforts this summer, setting up sting operations and toughening penalties for breaking the law. Call the police’s non-emergency line to report these speed demons. With enough complaints, the cops are bound to force those drivers to keep it street legal.

Dear Urban Diplomat, I just started at U of T, and my first couple of weeks in residence have been insane. The students who live on my floor—many of them 19-year-olds who deferred their first year because of the pandemic—party like lunatics almost every night of the week, drinking and blasting music as if they’re making up for lost time. I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since I arrived. What can I do? —Residence Evil, University

There’s no point in asking your floormates to keep it down or complaining to your residence advisor—it will only turn you into a fun-sucking social pariah. On the bright side, every bender must come to an end. In a matter of weeks, I expect your residence will settle into a more manageable degree of revelry: wild weekends and the odd 2 a.m. fire alarm. In the meantime, buy a pair of earplugs or a white noise machine and wait for the partying to subside.


Dear Urban Diplomat, Last weekend, while my wife was out of town for work, my son and I got an early start on his Halloween costume: a big green ball covered in red spikes. When my wife got home, she freaked. She says it would be totally inappropriate to let our kid go trick-or-treating as the novel coronavirus. I think she’s overreacting, and I’d hate to tell my son he can’t wear a get-up we spent hours working on. What do you think? —Sick Joke, East York

Well, Halloween costumes are supposed to be scary, and there’s nothing more terrifying than a virus that’s killed more than four million people worldwide. You get full points for creativity, but I’m with your wife: the last thing parents and kids need is another Covid reminder, particularly on a night that should be filled with sugar-fuelled frivolity. With some minor tweaks and a quick paint job, you could refashion his costume into a walking pufferfish. That way, when he rings doorbells, your kid will get candy bars instead of dirty looks.


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