Q: I’m a 17-year-old girl, and all my life I have had trouble accepting gifts, even inexpensive ones. I do believe it’s the thought that counts, but I have trouble expressing gratitude.
An example: My brother was disappointed by my reaction when he got me soap shaped like a rock last Christmas. My smile was forced. I feel anxious when I get presents, no matter what they are.
I have started seeing someone, and I was planning to save up for a really nice present for him. But when he said he wanted to do the same, I felt uncomfortable. What’s a great line I can use to express my gratitude — “I’m happy that you thought of me”? — Searching for Words Out West
A: Always say thank you. After that, you might express that the item is “beautiful” or that you like the style or the color. In a case like your brother’s gift, you could have said, “Wow! This gift rocks!”
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Q: I am 29, independent, single and have a steady job. I plan to go back to school to become a certified plumbing technician.
Here’s the catch: I’m a woman, and because I’m female, some people make comments like, “You don’t want to do that. It’s working with other people’s ––!” Yes, this is really because I’m female.
I have tried explaining that plumbing doesn’t just involve unclogging toilets and that I feel it’s a good choice for me, but I still get these stupid comments. One woman in particular I work with won’t stop trying to talk me out of it. I think it’s my choice and she’s being rude. Is there a polite way to convince her without being rude? — Ms. Plumber in Lancaster, Penn.
A: Try this: “Plumbers make good money. Right now, I’m making ‘this’ much, but once I complete the course I’ll be earning ( )” If that doesn’t convince her, nothing will.
Q: Is there any hope for a man who refuses to turn off the TV during dinner? When I tell him dinner is on the table, he waits until it’s cold and then continues to watch the program from the dinner table and ignore me. I have asked him to please turn off the TV during meals, but he won’t.
He gobbles his food and doesn’t close his mouth. Food drops out of the side of his mouth, and it’s disgusting to see. Have you any suggestions? — Over It in Stockton, Calif.
A: Your husband’s behavior is passive-aggressive, and I can’t help but wonder what he’s punishing you for. It’s sad that he has such atrocious table manners and such little consideration for your feelings. I “suggest” you stop trying to serve him a hot meal, let him get his own food from the kitchen and eat it in front of the television when he’s hungry, while you eat separately, preferably out with friends.
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.