DEAR HARRIETTE: It is so hot in my house right now that I can hardly bear it. It is impossible to get on a Zoom call for work and look professional when all I’m doing is sweating all day. I feel bad about this, but it’s true. I have not turned the camera on for a few days. I’m hoping that the heat wave will pass soon, but I’m not sure it will. What do you recommend that I do in this situation? My boss likes to see our faces at these meetings, but I don’t think anybody wants to see me sitting there sweating. — Overheated
DEAR OVERHEATED: No need to be embarrassed. A heat wave has swept our country. There have been waves of extremely hot days in the past few weeks that have made many thousands of people miserable. Check in privately with your boss and share that you are definitely a team player, but you feel the best way to show up professionally during this uncomfortable period is to be off camera with the exception, if necessary, of turning on your camera when you speak. Hopefully your boss will be understanding. If not, present yourself as comfortably and professionally as possible. Wear light-colored clothing, drink cool water and use a fan if you have one.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a random call from a former colleague recently. She said she had been thinking about me and wanted to look me up. That was nice, but also awkward. We were never close. As I recall, we were pretty competitive.
I am suspicious about why she is calling me now. She said she thought of me because of the times. She had made a list of people she cares about and wanted to check in with during COVID-19 when everybody is at home. That sounded sweet, but I am not sure. Should I take her overture at face value? Should I try to strike up a friendship with her? How should I read this out-of-the-blue call? — COVID Call
DEAR COVID CALL: I subscribe to the idea that, especially now during this elongated period of quarantine, it is smart to make lists of people you care about and to check in with them. I started with my closest circle of family and friends, then created a couple of other circles of people I care about. In part I did this to make sure that people were OK. I also had the thought that as people are sequestered at home, they may appreciate a connection to someone who cares about them.
Consider that your former colleague may have good intentions. Take her overture at face value, and receive her entreaty as an act of kindness and connection. You don’t need to strike up a friendship with her. Just ask her how she’s managing during these times. Have a pleasant conversation, and keep it moving. I believe that some good is emerging out of this extremely difficult time, and that is that some people are appealing to their humanity and looking to make real connections with others.