Dear Urban Diplomat: My friends are mocking me for still wearing a mask

Dear Urban Diplomat: My friends are mocking me for still wearing a mask

Dear Urban Diplomat,
When the mask mandate ended, everyone in my immediate circle stopped covering up. But not me. We’re all in our 20s and not particularly vulnerable, but I would prefer to err on the side of, you know, not dying. The problem is that my friends ridicule me for my caution with insults that aren’t fit for print. It’s exhausting and hurtful. How do I make it stop?
—Germ Warfare, Entertainment District

You need to stand up for yourself. The next time your friends attack your mask-wearing practices, invoke some science. Face coverings reduce the risk of infection, especially in the winter, when we’re more likely to gather indoors. You can also mention that the province’s chief medical officer of health, Kieran Moore, recently said, “Ontarians should continue wearing a mask if they feel it’s right for them.” If your buddies don’t lay off after that, it may be time to permanently social-­distance yourself from this particular circle.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
My husband and I have put a ton of work into our backyard garden, installing bird feeders and nests to make it an urban oasis. Recently, our next-door neighbour mentioned a rat infestation under their dilapidated deck. Their solution? Leaving poison everywhere and insisting that we follow suit. Now, we find rat corpses in our yard every day. And my neighbour is even implying that our feeders are a big part of the problem. How do we solve this mess?
—Rat Fink, Parkdale

When you agreed to the poison proposal, it was inevitable that your property would turn into a rat graveyard. Tell your neighbour that it’s time to call in a certified exterminator, one who can conduct a thorough inspection and apply higher-grade techniques such as fumigation. If you’re feeling generous, you might even offer to split the cost. In the meantime, eliminate food sources, clean around your bird feeders, secure bins, reduce clutter and keep the grass short. Before you know it, your garden will be a rodent-­resistant Eden once again.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I live in a high-rise unit right beside a garbage chute. At all hours, I hear people slamming it, and I can feel the vibrations of the trash compactor doing its thing. I haven’t had a good sleep in at least six months, and my complaints to the condo board have been ignored. Thoughts?
—Waste Case, Humber Bay Shores

Try again with the board, and bring a copy of the Ontario Condominium Act, which states that condo corporations have a duty to prevent “unreasonable interference” to the enjoyment of each unit. This slamming business indeed seems unreasonable. If the board fails to act, you can lawyer up. For precedent, in a recent case, the Ontario Superior Court awarded $30,000 to a condo owner after a similar chute-related noise complaint.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I’m a manager at a grocery store. Since the start of the pandemic, one of my cashiers has called in sick with Covid three times, resulting in nine days of paid leave. I don’t want to be insensitive, but I have reason to think they’re milking the pandemic to play hooky. Is there a way to handle this absenteeism without causing a full-blown human rights complaint?
—False Positive, Cabbagetown

Start by giving your employee the benefit of the doubt. As a front-liner, they run a high risk of exposure to the virus, so it wouldn’t be absurd if they caught it more than once. But it would be totally uncool if they were exploiting this calamity for their benefit. Know this: employers can ask their staff to provide evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” that they’re eligible for sick leave, per the Ontario Employment Standards Act. Such a request would apply in this situation because there’s been a pattern of absences. So, the next time this cashier allegedly tests positive, you can ask them to provide a doctor’s note. If they’re telling the truth, they should have no problem getting the paperwork. If not, it may be time to consider a more reliable cashier.


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