Urban Diplomat: My friend is using a fake vaccine passport

Dear Urban Diplomat, My friend, an extremist anti-vaxxer, created a fake vaccine passport by photoshopping his name onto the PDF of someone else’s dose administration sheet. It’s infuriating enough that he refuses to get vaxxed, but now he wants the privileges of immunization without the jab. None of our other friends know about it. Should I say something? —Friend or Faux, Black Creek

Even if this holdout can’t be convinced to get the vaccine, you might be able to persuade him to stop lying about it. First, tell him he could face a $750 fine if he gets caught. If money doesn’t move him, perhaps a bit of social pressure will. Inform him that, now that you know about his fake ID, you can’t in good conscience keep it from your friend group or hang out in vaxxed-only settings, given you could be complicit in transmitting the virus. If he still insists on flashing his phony pass, consider a more drastic form of social distancing—avoiding him until he comes to his senses.

Dear Urban Diplomat, I returned to the office for the first time last month. A few desks down from me, a woman who was hired during the pandemic has been sniffling non-stop. In pre-Covid times, I wouldn’t have even noticed. But now, it seems like a serious health risk—or, at the very least, an obvious breach of pandemic etiquette. Our employer lets people work from wherever they want. Do I tell the new hire to stay home? —Workplace Hazard, Downsview

A runny nose isn’t a surefire symptom of Covid, but even if it’s just a nasty bug of another variety, she shouldn’t be spreading it. Rather than zeroing in on this one germy greenhorn, take an approach that will benefit your entire office. Ask HR to send an all-staff email urging sick people to stay home. If the new hire keeps showing up anyway, she’s probably just trying to make a good impression in her first couple of months on the job. Mention this to HR, who will likely tell the sniffler that showing respect for her co-workers is more important than showing face.

Dear Urban Diplomat, A friend from my hometown recently asked me to help him find an apartment in the city, and I found him a promising listing in the Ice condo building. Turns out the place is full of sketchy people, with reports of rental scams, residents tossing bottles off balconies and units getting peppered with gunshots. Sure enough, my friend got swindled out of his first and last months’ rent, then had to pay for an Airbnb while he found a legit apartment. I feel terrible. Should I cover some of his costs? —Ice Guys Finish Last, Harbourfront

I commend your generosity, and sure, if you’re flush and he isn’t, an offer to cover some of his Airbnb would be a thoughtful gesture. But your friend ultimately bears responsibility for his own choices, even if he was acting on your advice. Channel your guilt into helping him get settled in his new place. Then buy him a nice housewarming gift and take him out for a drink. What he needs now isn’t necessarily a pity payout—he needs proof that life in the big city doesn’t totally blow.

Dear Urban Diplomat, Every morning, when I walk my kids to middle school, we go past the adjoining high school, where a group of students are always vaping. My kids have definitely noticed and seem intrigued, so I’m pretty concerned. When I asked the high schoolers to cut it out, they said vaping is legal and told me to mind my own business. What’s the best way to handle this? —Vaporous Teens, L’Amoreaux

The next time you see those kids, if you’re feeling brave, you could try educating them about the risks of nicotine addiction, but teenagers are pathologically rebellious. They’re more likely to crack up than comply. If you’re determined to make it stop, schedule a meeting with their principal, which might get results. When it comes to your own kids, consider telling them about vaping, smoking, drinking and all the other substances they’ll be exposed to in the years ahead. That way, they can learn from a loved one instead of being influenced by a gaggle of schoolyard troublemakers.


Dear Urban Diplomat, I recently went on an amazing first date with a guy I met on a dating app. He picked a great restaurant on King West, covered the bill and even stood with me at the streetcar stop. As we waited, he bragged about saving money by using a child’s Presto card, as if I should have been impressed by his ingenuity. It was a huge turnoff, but I’m not ready to give up on him yet, especially if I can get him to see the error of his ways. Thoughts? —My Fare Lady, Parkdale

Things have changed since your date with that stingy suitor. Presto gates now beep three times and flash yellow when someone swipes a child’s card, so he’s bound to get busted sooner or later. You can give him a friendly heads-up about that, in case he’s unaware, and then deliver a dose of real talk: chintzing the TTC isn’t clever. It’s selfish, especially given how harshly the pandemic ravaged public transit. If he still fails to see what’s wrong with swiping a kid’s card, you should start swiping for someone new.


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