DEAR ABBY: What do you say when someone has been raped? I have a friend whose granddaughter was brutally raped and left for dead. I have asked a few questions about how she is doing and receive only cursory answers in response.
I know this incident has caused great sadness within this family. What do I say? What do I do? I am at a loss for words, and don’t know how to help. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. — Stymied in Arizona
DEAR STYMIED: You have shown your concern by asking. It should be clear to you that your friend is not comfortable discussing the family tragedy in detail. Now drop the subject, because sometimes being at a loss for words is a GOOD thing. When your friend is comfortable talking about it, he/she will do it without prompting.
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DEAR ABBY: This past week I read to the students at a local grammar school. I read to kindergarteners, second- and fourth-graders. The children were great, quiet and attentive. They asked insightful questions about the stories.
The teachers, on the other hand, were a disappointment. They dressed the way I dress when I work in the yard: jeans and T-shirts. What an unprofessional image they presented to these youngsters! They missed a wonderful opportunity to be a positive example of women in the workforce by displaying a total disregard for their appearance or the impact they have on young minds. — Sad to See in Nevada
DEAR SAD: I, too, remember when teachers dressed more formally in the classroom. But that was then and this is now. On the bright side, one would hope that teachers gain the respect and affection of their students less on how they look and more on the love of learning they are able to instill.
Germaphobe at work
DEAR ABBY: I recently took two days off from work to stay home with a cold. When I returned to work, a co-worker started commenting on how I might be contagious. Then during our lunch break, she commented that she didn’t want me to sit next to her “because she didn’t want to get sick.” I told her there were plenty of other seats if she preferred to sit elsewhere, and sarcastically thanked her for making me feel “welcomed.”
She continues to bring it up and is now pushing everyone to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their work areas. I’m offended. I think it’s rude. A couple of co-workers are now sick with similar symptoms. Is she being rude or am I oversensitive? And how should I respond? — Offended in the Midwest
DEAR OFFENDED: Your co-worker isn’t rude; she’s a germaphobe and with good reason. If everyone was careful to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their workstations and shared surfaces — door knobs, light switches, lunchroom equipment — there would be fewer individuals taking sick days. In a case like this, you should stop being defensive. The best way to respond to the woman is not to respond at all.