DEAR ABBY: On a Sunday afternoon in late September, I got hopelessly lost trying to find O'Hare Airport in Chicago. I pulled off the interstate at a neighborhood exit and asked a man parked at the curb for directions. He was Hispanic, and there was a bit of a language barrier, but he and his sister offered to lead me there.
When we neared Midway Airport, I realized the mistake that had happened. They again offered to lead me to O'Hare -- which is a considerable distance from Midway.
We traveled through stop-and-go traffic, took shortcuts through local neighborhoods with parades, demonstrations and traffic cops, and became temporarily separated when other vehicles darted between me and my rescuers. I worried that the needle on my gas gauge would drop, which would mean having to gas up again at my destination -- if I ever reached it.
They got me to O'Hare and I turned in my car before the needle dipped. I could only wave my gratitude as I turned off. I hope my navigators understood.
They were in their late 30s/early 40s and driving a small red pickup with an open bed. I never got their names, but hope they'll recognize themselves if you print this. They were wonderfully helpful and kind to a stranger in trouble, and I am grateful. -- LADY IN THE RED HYUNDAI WITH N.Y. PLATES
DEAR LADY: I hope your "dos Buenos Samaritanos" see your letter and know that they are still in your thoughts. An act of kindness is a powerful thing; the "ripples" it creates move ever outward. So now it's your turn -- pass it on.
DEAR ABBY: My parents are chronic overspenders. The illusion of material wealth is all they care about. Over the past 10 years they have filed for bankruptcy twice, lost two homes, had three cars repossessed and been through credit counseling twice.
My two siblings and I have tried to help, but all it did was enable them to continue acting irresponsibly. The money we have "lent" them is into five figures. Once we lent them money so their car wouldn't be repossessed, but they used it to buy new furniture.
Mom and Dad are now unemployed, and none of us is able to bail them out again. Last year, we asked them to forgo any holiday gifts. All we wanted was a family dinner and for them to use their money on bills and necessities. They didn't listen and bought us extravagant gifts anyway, only to hit us up later for money to pay the bills! We returned the gifts and gave the money back to them.
How do we impress upon our parents that we don't want any gifts this year? We're ready to cancel celebrating Christmas with them. I know they'll be hurt, but what else can we do? -- HATES THE HOLIDAYS IN OHIO
DEAR HATES THE HOLIDAYS: Your parents have a serious problem, and if you care about their welfare -- as you and your siblings obviously do -- I recommend that all of you start family counseling immediately. It may take a mediator to help your parents realize that their behavior is out of control and that someone else should be managing their finances.
You cannot and should not be expected to fix their money problems, which I suspect are the result of other underlying issues. Your doctor or state psychological association can refer you to someone who is licensed and qualified.
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