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Ask Amy: I paid a lot of money, and all I got was the ski bro’s stories

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Dear Amy: Sometimes, I want some help with a skill. For example: skiing.

I’m a perfectly competent skier, but I know I have some quirks in my form, and some one-on-one targeted work with an instructor might help me to straighten them out. Ditto weight-lifting and physical training.

My problem is that signing up for a lesson through a resort or a health club is such a roll of the dice. Half the time, I get an instructor who is bound up in their own schtick.

Last year I took a class with a teacher who spent most of the time showboating and regaling us with stories of ski issues he had helped people resolve in the past.

Another time, I got an instructor who was tediously insecure about giving pointers and advice, and constantly musing about how out of practice they were with giving lessons.

We’re all human, but it’s so frustrating to get put in the position of being a captive audience. This is a paid service, and the objective is to help me do better at something I care about. It’s not cheap, especially when it’s a one-on-one lesson.

Do you have advice about how to communicate with schedulers when I am contracting for a lesson, so that I get an instructor who fits my style?

I’ve tried, “I work better with female instructors” (in the ski scenario) and “I tend to work better with physical trainers closer to my age” (in the gym).

But when I say those things, I feel like I’m overstepping in some way. And no matter how pleasant I try to be when making the request, it’s often not received well.

I’d really appreciate your help! I would love to have a good experience this winter with a solid, productive ski lesson.

– Elie

Dear Elie: I can imagine your frustration. Private instruction can be extremely expensive; the idea is for you to soak up a lot of instruction in a concentrated amount of time. This encourages you to take the lessons you’re receiving and apply them later, on your own time.

Attentive and competent instructors also offer lessons that are vital to your safety.

Any time an instructor doesn’t instruct, or wastes your time and money by delivering unrelated monologues, you should notify management, ask for a refund and/or a gratis session with a different and more qualified trainer.

If you are looking to maximize your experience, your stated parameters to the scheduler (preferring to work with female or compatible age instructors) are insufficient. Be very specific in your query: “I will show up on time and ready to learn, but I need a trainer/instructor who devotes the class time to instruction. So if you can schedule me with a no-nonsense non-talker, I’d appreciate it.”

Dear Amy: My wife and I just welcomed our first child, and, of course, we are over the moon. Our baby was born healthy but came into the world a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.

As parents of a newborn, we are concerned about our baby’s health.

My brother and sister-in-law have a 6-year-old son. We love the parents and the child. However, the parents have elected not to have their son vaccinated, and we are very concerned about exposing our nephew to his newborn cousin.

Your advice?

– New Parents

Dear New Parents: You and your wife must ask your child’s doctor for advice regarding your concern about exposing your baby to unvaccinated people.

From a parenting point of view, this is really your first test about how to create and enforce reasonable boundaries for physical contact with your child.

In the shorter term, you should limit all close contact until you two have your sea legs and your baby is healthy and thriving (perhaps after that one-month checkup).

During that checkup, go over your child’s vaccination schedule and ask about specific risks to the baby regarding contact with unvaccinated people before your baby is vaccinated.

Dear Amy: Like the woman who signed her question my husband was overreacting and angry, and I experienced her stress on a smaller scale.

I insisted that he see his doctor and he was evaluated and prescribed antidepressants.

My husband says it was the best thing that ever happened for him.

It really changed him back to his more positive personality.

– Grateful

Dear Grateful: I agree that this husband needs a mental health screening, and I hope this wife can somehow persuade him to see a doctor.

You can email Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickinson.com 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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