DEAR ABBY: I work in the personnel office of a municipality. We will soon be hiring new staff for the school system, and each year I am amazed by some of the behavior I see. Allow me to offer a few tips for new hires in ANY business.
(1) Please dress appropriately. I'm sure you did for the interview, so do it again when you stop by personnel. Before you leave your home, bend over in front of a mirror as if you were at a desk or counter. And check both the front and back views. I have seen parts of the anatomy that should be viewed only by your doctor or spouse. Also, that floral tattoo on your abdomen may be cute in a bikini, but it's inappropriate for an office.
(2) Please leave your children at home. You must have hired a sitter for your interview. Please do it again for your visit to personnel. While we try to explain your health insurance and other benefits to you, you should not be chasing a 2-year-old around the office or down the hall.
(3) Please turn off your cell phone. This is not an appropriate time to discuss a luncheon date with your neighbor. Also, if your family can't survive 20 minutes without speaking to you, perhaps you should not be in our office. -- SEEN IT ALL IN CENTRAL MAINE
DEAR SEEN IT ALL (and I'm sure you have): Thank you for your commonsense suggestions. Different offices hold employees to different standards of dress and behavior. Until a new employee is certain of what those standards are, the sensible thing to do is to err on the side of conservatism in both manner and dress. A word to the wise ...
DEAR ABBY: Summer begins tomorrow, and many parents are wondering how to keep their children entertained. I have a simple no-cost answer to that dilemma: Visit your local library.
Most libraries offer summer programs for kids that not only encourage them to read, but also provide access to wonderful educational opportunities. Libraries offer adult programs as well, which allow us parents a chance to enjoy a few good books while demonstrating to our kids how much fun it is to read.
My children are excited to be a part of the summer program, and I am thrilled that they have something to look forward to. -- BOOK MOM IN TEXAS
DEAR BOOK MOM: Great suggestion. There are exciting new worlds to be explored by both children and adults between the covers of books. Although it can vary by region, some libraries offer programs for children that include reading clubs, puppet shows, story time, and sometimes more. Parents should check to see what's available, because learning what a valuable resource the public library is, is an important lesson in itself.
DEAR ABBY: I have two children under the age of 4. When they address adults -- including baby sitters -- I have taught them to preface it with "Ms." or "Mr." and the person's first name. We consider it a form of respect, and although I realize that each parent has her (or his) own take on this, it has begun to bother me when their children address us by our first names. Am I making a big deal out of nothing? -- WONDERING IN LIVONIA, MICH.
DEAR WONDERING: As you point out, different families have different standards. Because you prefer to be called "Ms.," bring it not only to the attention of the child, but also to the child's parent, and your wishes should be respected.
To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)
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