Ask Amy: COVID scare keeps group member away

Dear Amy: Two weeks ago, my husband, who was not being careful enough, came down with COVID-19.

I duly reported this to the person who is in charge of a weekly outdoor gathering I attend with some other people.

I said that we were taking serious precautions to ensure that I didn’t catch the disease, and that I had tested negative for the past five days.

I wasn’t surprised that my offer to skip the meeting that week was accepted.

I was distressed, however, to discover that the organizer had still included me in the group text announcing the event. (Our gathering is dependent on weather and other factors and hadn’t occurred for some weeks.)

It was painful to see all the outcries of joy from the other members that we would be meeting. Despite the measures I took to remove myself from the group text, I continued to receive messages.

This week I was again included in the group text, then privately contacted to query my testing status. I reported that I had tested negative eight times, but was asked to verify negative results for both me and my husband.

I said that our doctor’s office had told my husband not to waste a test because he would probably show being positive for some weeks, even though he was no longer contagious per CDC advisories.

I understand that people are worried about COVID, but is it wrong to expect some common courtesy? If someone is not really invited to an event, isn’t it cruel to include that person in a group text?

— Lonely

Dear Lonely: I assume your main question is about the utility of excluding someone from an outdoor event who consistently tests negative for COVID for many days leading up to the event.

To me it seems overly cautious to keep someone who doesn’t have COVID away from an outdoor activity — but these are the rules laid down by the organizer, and you are conscientiously adhering to these guidelines. You are displaying “common courtesy” by being honest.

In terms of this group texting issue — yes, it hurts that you can’t join the activity, but you are part of the group and it is appropriate to include you in notifications, even if you can’t be there. Furthermore, I suspect that if you weren’t included in notifications, you might feel even more hurt and excluded.

This is a temporary but tough thing for you to experience, and after two pandemic years of facing other tough things, it might hurt a little more than it should.

Dear Amy: My dad has built incredible things, including a garage and an addition on his home. He has remodeled neighbors’ homes and made some remarkable, high-quality projects. This is his hobby.

He has never charged anyone for helping them; they get the supplies, and he shows up to help. He has freely given his time and talents for neighbors and friends.

I recently talked to him about a built-in wall project for my own home.

A few weeks later he called me to say he had some free time and could help me with the built-ins.

After some planning, he mentioned how much less he is charging me than another contractor would, and how he didn’t need me to give him the money for supplies upfront, because he’d include it on my invoice.

Is it presumptuous of me to think my dad would help me build something if I cover the costs for all of the materials?

I thought my dad would want to give his time helping his daughter.

I never ask him for anything and was stoked when he called and said he had time to help, but our last conversation left me deflated.

— Frustrated Daughter

Dear Frustrated: Your father wasn’t specific regarding charging you for his time and talent. And it seems that he is advancing you the cost of the material.

Please, ask him to be specific, and then talk about it, using a neutral tone and adopting a non-defensive attitude. If you decide to go ahead with the project, go with him to select materials, and assist him in the building.

Dear Amy: Your sweet and helpful response to “Frustrated” on how to understand and relate to fellow fourth graders brought tears to my eyes.

I have a quirky and somewhat awkward son who could have written that question.

I’m going to share your answer with him tonight.

— Grateful Mom

Dear Grateful: I thought “Frustrated” was very brave and cool to describe this.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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