Urban Diplomat: My cousin is an anti-masker who attends those downtown rallys

Urban Diplomat: My cousin is an anti-masker who attends those downtown rallys

I’m seriously thinking of reporting him, but we’re blood. What should I do?

One of my cousins is an anti-masker who attends those rallies downtown. He refuses to get tested, endangering the people around him. At this point, judging by the fact that he’s always sick, I’m nearly certain he contracted Covid a couple of times—yet he still hangs out with a big group of friends. I’m seriously thinking of reporting him, but we’re blood. What should I do?

—Relative Morality, North York

It’s extremely rare to catch Covid twice, but, as we know, one positive case can turn into a super-spreader event, so I sympathize with your consternation. City-dwellers have been using 311 as the unofficial snitch line for business indiscretions and excessive private gatherings. However, there’s no Covid Jail for individual violators like your cousin, unless the person is flouting travel quarantine or mandatory self-isolation orders, in which case you can call Public Health about it. It sounds like he has a teflon complex, so he’s unlikely to respond to your personal pleas. I’d pull out the big guns: rat him out to your grandparents.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My office switched to work-from-home during the pandemic. One of my co-workers, who’s really talkative during our mandatory morning Zoom meetings, revealed to me privately that she’s been taking entire afternoons off, ditching work while the rest of us toil away at our computers. She said the key is to make a show of being engaged in the morning meetings. It’s totally unfair. Should I discuss it with her, tell the boss, or just stay out of it?   

—All Worked Up, Leslieville

Given that you’re not her mom or boss—and be thankful for that—the most you can really do is tell her how uncomfortable it makes you to know that she’s slacking off while you’re busy capital-S Slacking. Also, as long as she’s getting the work done, how she chooses to manage her time is her business. The upside is that you don’t have to make forced conversation with her at the water cooler—and probably won’t for a while.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

I’m an experienced massage therapist, and my business was hit hard during the spring lockdown. I, like many in my industry, charge a fee for a missed appointment when it’s not cancelled at least two days in advance. Lately, however, many clients have been calling the day of to say they won’t make it because they’ve got symptoms. I get it—they’re being safe. But it’s costing me hundreds of dollars a day. Can I still charge a cancellation fee?

—Here’s the Rub, Markham

There’s never been a better time for a massage, so your clients are probably cancelling in good faith. But that vigilance is clearly affecting your bottom line. Consider a “compromise fee,” one that’s slightly reduced given the times, but that still gives you a bit of a Covid business buffer. And be sure to make your new policy as conspicuous as possible in your promotional material (HELLO, ALL CAPS) so there’s no confusion. That should hold your customers somewhat accountable.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My friend’s kid, who runs a snow-shovelling business in the neighbourhood, recently came by and asked if we’d like him to shovel our sidewalk this winter. Last year, he charged $10 per snowfall, which included driveway clearance. This year, he wants $20 for the same service. Nobody in our house wants to be out shovelling in the freezing cold, and I’d love to give the kid some money, but our family finances are kind of tight right now. Do I try to negotiate the price, knowing that he’ll go back and tell his parents, potentially making us look like cheapskates?

—Cold, Hard Cash, East York

Please refuse the service wholesale rather than haggling with a literal child over $10. Any negotiation will absolutely make you look like a tightwad, and nobody wants to be known around their neighbourhood as a certifiable Scrooge. That said, if shovelling is something you’re absolutely determined to outsource—no judgment here, it’s a thankless chore—consider scaling back on other purchases (Starbucks lattes, Amazon delivery, Walmart Christmas decorations) to free up some cash. After all, this is a great opportunity to encourage a budding entrepreneur.

Dear Urban Diplomat,

My daughter’s daycare recently had a parents’ Zoom session, and one of the agenda items covered how to enforce Covid-19 protocols. The person who runs the daycare had an intricately detailed plan, in keeping with Ontario guidelines: daily screening for symptoms, social-distancing in the play area, self-sanitizing constantly. But the plan also included time-outs for anyone caught breaking Covid orders, which I found strange, but none of the other parents flinched at the idea. Should I have said something?

—Time and Punishment, the Annex

Time-outs do seem like a strange punishment. Should getting too close to a playmate really carry the same consequences as hitting them in the eye with a block of Lego? Feel free to raise your concerns with the caregiver directly. You’re paying for the service and should certainly have input on how things operate. But don’t be surprised if all of the parents feel more comfortable with enforced purgatory for little Covid violators. More than ever, now is the time to err on the side of caution.