Q: I am a college student on the East Coast. A dear friend of mine who attends the same university goes home on break to the West Coast.
She was raped at a party. Over the summer break she found out she was pregnant and had an abortion. She’s now suffering from some intense emotional and psychological problems and sees a campus therapist.
Abby, I want to be supportive, but I’m not sure how. I don’t know what to say around her or how to keep her mind off it, or if I should. Can you help me? — Concerned Friend
A: You are this young woman’s friend. Let her know you are there for her. Treat her as you always have and talk about the things you always have with her. It is not your job to distract her from thinking about what happened to her.
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If she wants to talk about it, be prepared to listen and sympathize. But if she needs more than that, remind her that she has a licensed therapist who is more qualified to help than you are, and encourage her to contact the person if something is dragging her down.
Q: I’ve had three different secretarial jobs over the last 10 years. At two of them something has happened, and I’m hoping you can help me deal with the situation.
While at my desk, I’ve had bosses who enter my office, come around to my side of the desk and stand very close to me. Sometimes they'll even start keying things into my computer, all without asking. It feels like an invasion of my personal space.
I wouldn’t do that to them. Why do they feel they can do this to me? Or am I making too much of the whole thing? Please help. — Silent Secretary in Texas
A: Different people have different boundaries when it comes to personal space. Because having someone come around your desk and stand close to you without permission makes you nervous, speak to your boss about it.
That someone would reach over you to type something into a document you are working on seems to me to be rude, but your employer may have been trying to add something or correct errors, and thought it would be a faster way of getting the job done than trying to explain it to you.
It might reassure you to discuss this with some of the other secretaries, ask if this is common and whether it bothers them, and let them advise you.
Q: I know food is often described as “finger-lickin' good,” but I’m appalled at the number of people who literally do this at restaurants. Didn’t they ever learn to use a napkin? What’s next — licking each other’s fingers? Can you comment? — Mannerly Out West
A: I will ignore the temptation to give a naughty answer and offer a nugget of advice. Now that you know not everyone has table manners that measure up to your own — or even most folks’ — do less people-watching in restaurants or eat at home.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.