Dear Berry with Mara BlumenthalDear Berry,

I'm pulling my hair out - HELP!!!! My boss just gave me a beautiful new and shiny 8800 Blackberry. He said I could use it for personal use if I would like however, the main use for the unit would be for work. No problem I thought. I have good boundaries with not mixing my work and social lives so it wouldn't be an issue. this crazy nut of a boss of mine is emailing me in the middle of the night, which he always did however, now if I don't respond by the crack of dawn he gets irritated. So I am now waking up to lots more of his emails and IMs that have been missed since I am not available - I am single and want a life and AM NOT interested in my boss. What do you think and how do I tell him that just because he LOANED me this BB from the company it doesn't mean I'm available to him 365/24/7.

Pulling out my hair in Seattle

Dear "Pulling out my hair in Seattle",

This definitely is an issue. It was just great of your boss to give you a new and wonderful BB 8800 however, that doesn't make you beholden to him in any way. In today's world, employees are starting to wonder if they should receive "BB pay" if they are working non-stop. I'm not sure employers would agree with this idea. I believe it's very important to balance your work and social lives and it sounds like you were doing this very well before this "gift" from your boss. It also sounds like he gave the BB to you with unreasonable expectations. Of course he might well be "interested" in you. Sounds like a definite possibility!

You need to sit down with your boss and have a straightforward and respectful "chat" regarding your private time being just that. Your happy to have the new device and will make yourself available so that you are able to meet your job responsibilities or exceed them. You MUST set the boundaries because it sounds like he doesn't have any or isn't interested in keeping them!

Best of luck,