DEAR ABBY: In the late '80s, I worked in the kitchen of a catering company. The hours were long, the work was hard and the pay was minimal.
One day, the boss posted a letter on the bulletin board in the kitchen from a customer who was delighted with the food, service and professionalism of our company. All of the employees were thrilled that someone took the time to write a letter to compliment us.
That letter set the tone for a very long time. Whenever we felt overworked and underpaid, all we would have to do was go over to the bulletin board and read the letter. Our spirits and morale were automatically boosted.
Since then, whenever I encounter a product or service that I really enjoy, I take the time to let them know it -- in writing.
If there is a company that is doing something right, a product that you really enjoy or a person who is an angel in disguise, take the time to express to them, preferably in writing, what you feel. Encourage them to keep up the good work, tell them what they do is important, and thank them. It will make their day -- or year.
To all the bosses out there: Don't keep the letters in a file; put them where everyone can see them! -- NEW ORLEANS READER
DEAR READER: I couldn't agree more. A thank-you note or written word of praise takes so little effort -- and yet it can make a tremendous difference. The written word is a powerful medium that can be enjoyed over and over again, and speaks as eloquently of the writer as it does the subject about which is being written.
DEAR ABBY: After 34 years of marriage, I learned that my husband was cheating with a woman three years older than our son.
The hurt was terrible and the embarrassment was horrendous. Not as much for me, but for people who did not know how to console me. With a death, friends can be sorry and there is closure. With a divorce, people do not know what to say.
My method for dealing with this was with humor. People were well aware of my hurt, but when I replied, "He got the bimbo; I got the tractor," they were able to laugh and their discomfort dissipated. My advice is to find a catch phrase that lightens the situation. You'll still hurt and mourn, but your friends will be much more comfortable. The sooner you laugh, the sooner you heal. -- MERILYN IN HOLLY, MICH.
DEAR MERILYN: Wise words, indeed.
DEAR ABBY: You were wise to advise the concerned family members to seek help for the sister whom the mother was avoiding because of her newly unpleasant behaviors. However, you were incorrect in your statement that she may have a mental illness or depression. Abby, depression -- along with a whole host of other neurobiological brain disorders -- IS a mental illness. -- CYNTHIA HAMMER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL, PIERCE COUNTY, WASH.
DEAR CYNTHIA: Thank you for pointing this out. Readers, NAMI (the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) is a nonprofit organization of more than 190,000 members that advocates for research and services in response to major illnesses that affect the brain. Anyone interested in learning more about mental illness is encouraged to call NAMI's helpline at (800) 950-6264 or visit the Web site at www.nami.org.
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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