Ask Amy: Raunchy movie with colleagues is a bad date

FresnoJanuary 6, 2014 

Dear Amy: My boss wants to take my small team (fewer than 10 people) out to a movie after work as a sort of employee appreciation/team-building event.

I accepted the invitation about three weeks ago. I just found out that the movie we are attending is raunchy. I don't have much of an issue with sexual humor in my personal life, but it's not something I feel comfortable experiencing with co-workers.

My boss has already purchased tickets, so I would feel guilty to decline at this point. I am a new employee, and everyone else has said that they are excited to see this particular movie, so I don't want to stand out as a weird new person. However, the idea of seeing this film with my co-workers makes me extremely uncomfortable. What can I do?

— Uncomfortable

Dear Uncomfortable: Taking a group of employees to a movie as a team-building event is a terrible idea. Movie-watching is a passive activity where there is no interaction among participants. Teams are built through idea sharing, recreation and cooperation. This evening sounds more like a bad first date.

Because of the professional ramifications and awkwardness here (another reason why this event is a bad idea), you should respond to it the way you might when you find yourself trapped on a bad date: Take a seat near the aisle. Once the thing gets underway, you can duck out (if you want to). Then you can have a nice leisurely telephone call with your mom or check your email from the theater lobby.

When the movie ends, you can participate in whatever other (hopefully not horrific) activity the boss has planned, and if people ask you where you were or why you didn't stay in the film, be honest and say, "I was feeling a little squeamish and so I ducked out, but tell me — was it good? Did you guys like it?"

See what I did there? It's called misdirection, and it's a nonjudgmental way to be engaged and disengaged at the same time — a skill you may rely on repeatedly through your professional life.

Dear Amy: "Young Gran" wondered how to respond when people ask about her age.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, had the perfect answer to this intrusive question. When a television interviewer asked, "How old are you?" Mary Kay looked her right in the eye and answered, "How much do you weigh?"

— Bettie from Bristol, Tenn. Dear Bettie: Bam!


Contact Amy Dickinson via email at, follow her on Twitter @askingamy or "like" her on Facebook.

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