DEAR ABBY: My boss, who recently separated from her husband and is in the process of divorcing, moved within walking distance of work. The problem is that he can’t drive and his daughter has to be driven to and from school. I offered to help her with her daughter, but he now asks me to take her wherever she needs to go.
I was accommodating and did this for a couple of months, but he never offered me money to put gas in my car, even though he always brags about all the things he ordered on the Internet. I never offered to be her driver.
I work third shift, which is hard enough, and I have my son to take care of during the day. How can I tell her it has to stop without hurting her feelings? I’m on the verge of losing control of her and scolding her. Everyone I know is advising me to stop and she is just using me. – USED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR USED: Explain to your boss (politely) that you were happy to help her “temporarily” by making sure her son had transportation to and from school, but that you have responsibilities outside of work that prevent you from continuing to serve as her driver.
Then tell her that if you continue to drive her SON, you will have to be reimbursed for the gas you spend doing so – something she seems to have forgotten. Speaking up is not rude or offensive; It’s called being assertive.
DEAR ABBY: Should I be upset that my grandchildren have a stepfather who has no children of his own and is always giving money and other gifts to my grandchildren? I bought my 18 year old nephew a used car with the understanding that she would pay me back in installments when she started working. She did just that, and then had a bent bumper, so I helped her partially repair it. I made the same deal with him as before. I paid for the repairs; he repaid me in installments again.
Well, one of the doors has a big dent and won’t open. Now she has sweetly convinced her stepfather to buy another car! My nephew doesn’t want to fix the door because it’s easier to convince his stepfather to buy him another car. Should I be angry about this? What should I tell his grandfather? — FRUSTRATED GRANDFATHER
DEAR GRANDFATHER: I understand why you should worry. You tried not only to help your nephew, but also to teach him responsibility. His well-meaning grandfather is interfering with all of this. Definitely talk to him about it because grandpa is being manipulated. If he really wants to help your grandson, he should consider giving him driving lessons.
DEAR ABBY: Isn’t it considered bad manners to comment on the amount of time someone spends in the bathroom? Many times, when I was out with people at a restaurant or bar, someone would comment, “That was quick!” when I returned to the table. I want to tell them that the comment is inappropriate. Any suggestions for an appropriate response that isn’t too sarcastic would be appreciated. — PRIVATE LADY IN GEORGIA
DEAR PRIVATE MADAM: Try this: Smile at the person and say, “I didn’t know you were timing my action!” (It’s better than saying, “It’s because I didn’t have time to wash my hands. Do you want me to pass you the bread?”)
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