DEAR ABBY: My boss wants to do a day of community service with the staff to help others and improve relationships in the workplace. I thought it was a great idea; a lot of my co-workers were unsure and wanted more information about what specifically we would do. My boss said she would get more information and send it out to us. However, a few of my co-workers are outright opposed to the idea and think they shouldn't be required to do it.
A year ago when this came up, one of them said they shouldn't have to give up their free time. I think it's wrong to turn down a chance to help others when they are able. What should I do to make sure my boss's intentions are understood while not being off-putting or appearing holier-than-thou? -- BLEEDING HEART
DEAR BLEEDING HEART: The person who should be making her intentions clear is your boss. It should not be your responsibility. Frankly, I can see both sides of this question. Some companies do this not only to "do good," but also to build goodwill in the community and team spirit in the office. Usually, participation is voluntary.
DEAR ABBY: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years. He's eight years younger than I am. We have a great relationship except for our worldviews. While I am liberal, he is very racist. When the subject comes up, our conversations can become very heated.
I believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but both of us have a hard time validating our opinions for each other. My boyfriend never directs his racist comments toward anyone in particular, but it's hard for me not to take it that way.
One of my best friends is African-American, and my son is currently dating someone who is biracial. How do we agree to disagree without anyone being upset or hurt in the end? -- OPEN-MINDED IN INDIANAPOLIS
DEAR OPEN-MINDED: After two years of togetherness, your boyfriend knows full well that one of your best friends is African-American and that your son is dating someone who is biracial. You may never be able to broaden his mindset, but the next time he makes a racist remark, if you haven't already, tell him you don't want to hear it because it makes you uncomfortable.
And while you're at it, make sure he understands that if he says anything that could possibly hurt your friend or your son, the romance will be history.
P.S. You must be desperate for companionship to have tolerated this for two years.
DEAR ABBY: A family member likes to use the toilet as a garbage disposal. I've asked her to please dump the food scraps into a trash bag or pour them out in the backyard, but she prefers the "easy flushing." How do I get her to stop the extra wear-and-tear on our toilet? Plumbers are expensive. -- MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN
DEAR MDTD: Yes, plumbers are expensive. And there's a reason why we are supposed to use receptacles for what they're intended. If you are responsible for the toilet that's being used as a garbage disposal, make sure the family member knows she will be footing the bill for the plumber. However, if the toilet is her responsibility, this may be a lesson she will need to learn -- over and over -- on her own.