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Dear Uncle Mat

I started a new job last fall in a large corporate office. It is my first job in the “real world.” I work closely with four other people, two guys and two other girls, and have limited contact with about 10 other individuals, including my boss. I have no friends here. Everyone is friendly and professional, but I have connected with no one. Zilch. Zero. My four “teammates” are very friendly with each other and I know that the gay guy and one of the women go out for drinks together almost every Wednesday. Whenever I try to join in their banter, I am basically ignored. The other guy, “Jeff,” will ask me how my weekend or night was, but as I start to answer he just talks over me or even walks away. I don’t get it at all. I am socially confident and have plenty of friends outside of work. My best friend from college says that it’s just work and not to worry. Easy for her to say, she works for her family. I have to face these strangers every day and no one will break! It’s like, who do I have to blow to make a friend around here?! This is a good job and I need to make it work. Tell me how to join in their office games, please.

— Rudolph the Red-Nosed Corporate Analyst

Dear Rudolph,

Comparing yourself to a reindeer is maybe not the way to solve this problem. Neither is blowing anyone. It might get you a nice reputation, but I am certain it will send off a few alarms in human resources. It will also probably inspire jealousy and make as many enemies as friends. Your co-workers might just need time to warm up. Maybe more than you expect. Good friends are made, not assigned as teams.

My ex-boyfriend only had two real friends at work as best I could tell and he worked at his office for years. As you indicated, your job is important and it is most likely important to the other people in your office. Choosing your friends in this environment is more complicated than it was at school or summer camp. Making friends with the office tramp or gossip or average slacker could damage a career.

I think Jeff’s behavior is borderline rude, but he could just be nervous, cautious, or even shy. Next time just reply, “Fine, How was yours?” or “What did you do?” Some people prefer to talk about themselves rather than listen. It’s also a good way to get to know people. Ask questions, eventually they should ask back. If not, maybe they aren’t good friend material. Be glad everyone is nice, at the very least — they could be exclusive and bitchy. For further guidance, there is a whole section in the bookstore dedicated to networking and succeeding in the corporate world. Might be worth taking a peek.

Much love and friendship,

Your Uncle Mat

Possibly you can answer a question for a friend and I. Can a food item be organic if it was modified with steroids or hormones from an organic source? Steroids are hormones and are naturally produced by animals and people. If they were taken from an organic-raised chicken and given to another chicken, would the second chicken be organic too?

— Curious Conscious Consumers

Dear CCC,

Which came first, the chicken or the tumor? Questions like this are why I never took philosophy. I feel like I should responsibly refer you to Bill Nye or the Food Network or a bio-ethicist, but I am easily charmed by your faith in me. I have taken a look around the internet and have an answer: No; your chicken is still a freak of nature, I am not even certain you can just harvest a hormone from a happy, healthy, organic chicken to start with, but either way, it is not allowed. I think. I admittedly get lost and bored in lengthy technical explanations. The government has many definitions for organic, and then there are other organizations with their own standards. I strongly support educating yourself about what you eat, but you’re on your own now. Two websites worth consulting are organicconsumers.org and ams.usda.gov.

Much luck and fewer chemicals,

Your Uncle Mat

Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at
dearunclemat@sacurrent.com or Myspace.com/yourunclemat. Your true identity is safe with him.


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