Q. “When I took this job, housing was provided, and I was glad to have a place to live on-site. Now it seems like I’m always the one who has to answer the alarms or help on weekends when people don’t show up. Besides that, the boss’ wife watches this place like a guard dog. I like my job, but I need some help making this arrangement fairer for me and my family.”

A. Living on-site certainly has its benefits and drawbacks. You don’t have to spend money on transportation, which today adds up quickly, and you are close to your family. But you also are the one that’s expected to drop everything when there are problems.

It may be a great house, but you are a tenant. That means there are limits to the ontrol you have in remodeling and upkeep.

It sounds like you either need to get some clarification about the arrangement or at least establish some additional guidelines. If you are inconvenienced more than is appropriate, talk with the operation’s owner about setting limits concerning your “on-call” duties. Sometimes, your convenient location makes it too easy for employees to call you, instead of taking responsibility themselves.

If you don’t have a written agreement outlining the terms of your company housing, discuss this with your employer. You need some boundaries, and having them in writing makes it clear for everyone involved. See that it includes a clear definition of the times that you are expected to be available.

Concerning the “nosiness” of your boss’ spouse, you may be living in what was her house. There is a lot of history, and they put a lot of effort into making the place look appealing in the community. Even though you live there, it is their reputation that’s at stake. Do what you can to keep it looking nice from the road. Take advantage of opportunities to invite them in, if for only a few minutes. Be sure repairs are done promptly and don’t make any physical changes without permission. Use this as an opportunity to show your respect for their history and build rapport with the owners.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler,

P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983
or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.