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Wedding Woes

Yes, ask her to lunch to get to know her first

Dear Prudence,

I recently relocated to a conservative city for work. Most of my co-workers are older and also quite conservative, and while they’ve been nothing but polite to me, I haven’t made any work friends yet and generally eat lunch alone. A new employee my age recently joined the company and decorated her cubicle with some cool posters. One is an art print of the slippery elm plant, an abortifacient. I think this might be a secret pro-choice/progressive bat signal of sorts, but I’m not sure how to ask her about it. If she just liked the image and isn’t pro-choice, I’d hate to alienate her or make her angry. Are there ways I could delicately ask about her beliefs? Should I just invite her to lunch and see if we have any nonpolitical things in common? Making friends as an introverted adult is so hard!

—Is My Co-Worker Also a Secret Liberal?

Re: Yes, ask her to lunch to get to know her first

  • I think you’re reading too much into a plant but I also think you should just ask if she wants to join you for lunch. 
    Same. How many people actually know that about that particular tree? Because I sure didn't. 

    That was the weirdest part of the letter!

    I thought maybe this plant was a symbol for the Pro-Choice movement that I'd just never come across.

    Do friendly coworker things.  Chit-chat for a few minutes in the breakroom.  Compliment the poster.  Ask her to lunch.  Avoid political discussions like the plague until, maybe, you get a vibe for her views.  And still proceed cautiously if politics come up.

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  • ShesSoColdShesSoCold bend over and I'll show ya
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    edited January 31
    mrsconn23 said:
    Dear Prudence,

    I recently relocated to a conservative city for work. Most of my co-workers are older and also quite conservative, and while they’ve been nothing but polite to me, I haven’t made any work friends yet and generally eat lunch alone. A new employee my age recently joined the company and decorated her cubicle with some cool posters. One is an art print of the slippery elm plant, an abortifacient. I think this might be a secret pro-choice/progressive bat signal of sorts, but I’m not sure how to ask her about it. If she just liked the image and isn’t pro-choice, I’d hate to alienate her or make her angry. Are there ways I could delicately ask about her beliefs? Should I just invite her to lunch and see if we have any nonpolitical things in common? Making friends as an introverted adult is so hard!

    —Is My Co-Worker Also a Secret Liberal?
    Is this honestly a thing that people know?

    edited for typo
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  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs
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    Agree that it's super weird to make that leap from a tree. I certainly don't know what that tree is, and I had to google it. 

  • The tree is new to me too.  Just ask her to lunch LW.  And it may shock LW, but a couple of my friends are pro-life.  
  • Umm ... I know if for its uses against diverticulitus.  Didn't know about the abortifacient.  Tread lightly LW - but honestly, as someone who loves plants, I would have just gone right out and asked about the cool plant poster.  
    imageimage
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
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    Is this a screening question LW asks potential friends and SOs? Jesus. And I thought I was a socially incompetent introvert. 

    I had literally no idea about the use of slippery elm to induce an abortion and I consider myself to be pretty savvy on herbal uses both because I grew about around the “woo woo big pharma is evil” community and also because I have to study it as part of my degree. Most patients take slippery elm for their GERD. This is a screenshot from epocrates, a well known and respected medical app. It has nothing about abortion on it. 




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  • Curiosity finally got the better of me and I Googled "slippery elm" to see what it looked like.  The LW called it a plant, but I only came up with trees.

    I thought they were going to be some really distinctive looking tree that the LW recognized.  No.  They just look like trees.  They're pretty trees.  Just the kind that someone who especially likes trees or nature might have a poster of.  Which makes the LW's suspicion even more odd for me.

    Pics of a whole bunch of over-the-counter supplement bottles also came up in my search that were titled "Slippery Elm".  I didn't click on what they were supplements for and would assume it matches up with @levioosa's list.

    But that was a fun discovery.  I'd never heard of slippery elm until today and have now found it is at least a somewhat common supplement.

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  • OurWildKingdomOurWildKingdom in the 216
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    Agree that it's super weird to make that leap from a tree. I certainly don't know what that tree is, and I had to google it. 
    The only reason I had any idea was because I read Jean M. Auel's "Earth's Children" books as a teen, and in those books, it was used to help with difficult childbirth (among other things).

    I understand LW's desperation to find a kindred spirit, but she needs to dial back a bit and just say, "Hey, cool poster. Want to grab lunch/coffee?"
    short+sassy
  • Ro041Ro041
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    @short+sassy I looked because of your comment and I have to say.....LW might be off their rocker.  Those trees are not distinctive at all.  Here is a nice pic that could be a poster:

    Image result for slippery elm plant

    I wouldn't see that and think, "I bet the person with this on their wall is sending me a liberal bat signal." 

    Now I am starting to think that LW is more like a conspiracy theorist seeing hidden messages every day all around them.  Maybe their coworkers aren't even conservative.  Maybe they are just old compared to them and LW is all
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  • It definitely isn't easy to make friends as an introverted adult (or just as an adult in general), but asking someone if the cool plant poster at their desk is some sort of political statement is not the way to start!  (And ditto on never ever having heard of the slippery elm thing.)

    If LW thinks they may have something in common with this coworker, say hello, ask how her weekend was, see if she wants to get lunch sometime. It may seem daunting, but it's a lot better than jumping to conclusions about someone's beliefs.
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  • GBCKGBCK
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    I think you’re reading too much into a plant but I also think you should just ask if she wants to join you for lunch. 
    Same. How many people actually know that about that particular tree? Because I sure didn't.

    me, but I would think 'oooh, sore throat remedy' first if I saw it.  (I tend to assume it's obscure trivia I learned somewhere -and that there is a far far more obvious, possibly pop-culture obvious, connection right in front of me that I'm ignoring)
    But you could put a picture of it in front of me and I wouldn't immediately recognize it as slippery elm, because unless you have a good close up of the leaves, I don't find it's bark super distinctive, and it's leaves (which I"m better at IDing by, still not great) aren't that distinctive--unless it's super close, most elm leaves look the same to me)
  • @levioosa I also, in my books on herbal remedies, did not see anything about abortion.  This was news to me.  I want LW's sources. 

    I talked to a local herb guy to try to get my hands on slippery elm before.  Now I wonder if he's thinking I need it for something else ... if that's that case, he took too long to get it in for me at this point!  That was almost a year ago.

    imageimage
  • kvruns said:
    This person sure cares a lot about everyone's political beliefs as if it isn't possible to be friendly with someone who has different political leanings
    So much this!  I spent two weeks with a (National) political talk show host, a producer of a political TV show, and we all were full circle of the political spectrum and had absolutely delightful conversations...  I fully agree - too many have forgotten to be humans instead of "if you don't believe what I believe we can't eat in the same room let alone the same table!"...  
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