Dear Co-workers • Why do you need to? Merely wanting to isn't justification. There's also the possibility that they were indeed needy and you're drawing incorrect conclusions. Not that anything justifies a who's-the-poorest contest; just being thorough. These are sufficient arguments alone for not saying anything, but Ms. Shoulder-Devil has one, too: Watching people profess things that you know aren't true, and that you know they don't know you know, inspires some of us to make popcorn and grab a seat. Any "You're so full of it!" outburst would be counter to your own entertainment interests.
Dear Carolyn • I must say I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one in the middle of a who-had-it-worse competition. It is annoying, and I did go the route of just letting them make fools of themselves. But do be careful what you mention from your own childhood. I recently said I would love for my daughter to have horseback riding lessons as I did as a child (to one co-worker in a relevant discussion of children's activities) and now I am the Queen of Sheba. I get comments about my charmed upbringing and how wonderful it must have been. Why is this a contest? And I can't tell if I'm the winner or the loser.
Dear Co-workers • You had a pony. That makes you the winner of all things to every overgrown 6-year-old in your workplace.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.