DEAR ABBY: Something happened to me in one of the most popular restaurants here in town. I have gone there many times with family and friends. Recently a friend took me there for a birthday dinner. I know the manager, so I stopped to talk to him when we entered. As we were talking, the hostess came to take my friend to be seated, and I asked, "Could we have a booth, please?"
This was not an unusual request. I have asked before because it's a more intimate way to have girl-talk. When I went to look for my friend, she was being seated at a tiny table for two, and I remarked, "Are there no booths available?" The hostess replied, "The tables don't move in the booths." I told her I knew what the booths were like. She then demonstrated how you could pull the chairs up to the little table.
All of a sudden it dawned on me what the hostess was getting at. I said, "Are you insinuating that I won't fit in your booths?" and she pointed to my stomach! I was mortified! I am heavy, but not obese.
I was humiliated and the restaurant was crowded, so we sat down and ordered. It was a quick meal; I was too upset to eat. When I got home and settled down, I called and asked for the manager. As I started to tell him what happened, he said, "Oh yeah, she told me," and added, "We do the best we can." He just sloughed me off! Needless to say, I haven't been back. What do you think of this? -- KATHY IN LA HABRA, CALIF.
DEAR KATHY: The restaurant business is part of the "hospitality" industry. What you encountered was a poorly trained employee who lacked basic intelligence and tact. In the food business this can be a recipe for disaster. In your case, the hostess forgot a basic tenet of the hospitality industry: "The customer is always right." And I don't blame you for not going back. Under the circumstances, I wouldn't either.
DEAR ABBY: I married the man of my dreams. We have a wonderful life together, and we just had a beautiful baby girl. My husband was married before and has two children from his first marriage. They are great to me -- in fact, they are great kids.
The problem is, I don't love them. I feel so guilty about it. I treat them really well and I'd do anything for them. But when it is "our" weekend, I dread going home. I am not like that with our daughter. I love her with all my heart.
Why do I feel this way, and how can I change this? I need some advice desperately. -- ASHAMED IN THE SOUTH
DEAR ASHAMED: We don't love all people the same way, but that doesn't mean we don't have love for them. It is possible that on some level you resent your husband's children because they represent the intimacy he had with his first wife. But let me assure you that unless you are willing to work on those feelings, you will cause conflict and hurt in your household.
My advice is to discuss this with a therapist and work it through. And in the meantime, work extra hard at being a loving and caring friend to those kids. Because when all is said and done, you're not their mother, and that's all you ever can be.
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