DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: What should you do when someone you’re with insists on complaining in a restaurant? To me, making a scene is vulgar, and my husband and I would never complain about the service or question a check. Yet we have friends who don’t hesitate to do either when we dine out together. How should we handle the situation? We hate it!
DEAR SUZANNE: So stop going to dinner with those friends. They’re not necessarily doing anything wrong. Patrons of restaurants have every right to speak up if they feel the service is lacking or the food is badly prepared, and there’s nothing vulgar about making a legitimate complaint. But if folks who do so make you uncomfortable, limit yourself to dining with friends who don’t.
Sister-in-law needs to learn self-sufficiency
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DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My husband is one of three siblings. The youngest became a single mom and wanted to stay home when her child was young. OK, cool. Then she wanted an education. That’s cool, too. But her child is now 15, and Mom has been at the junior college for 11 years, with rent, food, school, etc., paid for by the government and the family. Now the government is cutting back, so she expects the family to pick up the slack. This woman is healthy and intelligent. Why am I the only one to question her lifelong assumption that others should pay for everything she needs?
DEAR J.W.: Eleven years at a junior college? We thought tenure was for faculty, not students.
Kidding aside, we don’t know why you’re the only family member who wants to see your sister-in-law get off the subsidy train, but you shouldn’t be. We hope you can convince the others that they’re doing a healthy, intelligent woman no favor by encouraging her to believe she’s incapable of taking care of herself. They’re also doing society a disservice by nurturing a sense of entitlement in someone who could become a productive citizen. And, most fundamentally, they’re allowing themselves to be exploited.
Good luck to you as you try to put an end to a family’s bad habit.
It’s OK to question CPA’s bill
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I was solely responsible for my elderly father’s financial affairs before he died, and, as his executor, I am responsible for settling his estate. My brother, who’s done nothing to help, recently asked to see the estate’s bills. Then, when he saw the CPA’s invoice, he went ballistic and insisted that I pay no more than half of the amount billed (though my brother knows nothing about the work involved).
Personally, I think the bill may be a little high, but nothing like my brother says. I don’t want to challenge it, however, because the same accountant does my wife’s and my tax returns — always delivering good service for a very fair price — and I don’t want to rock the boat. What should I do about my brother’s demand? For the record, he and I are 50/50 beneficiaries of Dad’s estate.
DEAR JONATHAN: What? Your brother only challenged one bill? That must be a record — a record, that is, for the type of sibling who doesn’t do anything except second-guess.
Look, unless your brother is co-executor of your father’s estate — and it doesn’t sound as if he is — he doesn’t get to dictate how the bills are handled. But that said, if you think the accountant’s bill is too high, you have a fiduciary obligation to say something. What you say, though, need be nothing more confrontational than: “To be honest, I didn’t expect your bill to be this high. Could you do me a favor and double-check the numbers?”
Rest assured you won’t be rocking the boat. Every CPA has heard a million variations of the same request.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate