DEAR ABBY: In this day of massive cutbacks and layoffs, please remind your readers that people who have recently lost their jobs need their friends now more than ever.
Having found myself in this situation, I know firsthand that people I thought were my friends truly are not. The phone calls and e-mails stopped almost immediately when word got out that I was laid off. Being treated as if I have some sort of contagious disease has been as bad as losing my job. I know what happened to me is a sign of the times and no reflection on me.
So -- to all of you who have chosen to no longer communicate with me because of my employment status: I am fine. I have a positive attitude. This will not keep me down. I realize that my possibilities are endless. However badly you treat me now, when you are in the same situation, I will be there for you.
To the wonderful man in my life, thank you for standing by me and giving me daily encouragement. To my family, whom I worship beyond belief, thank you for your understanding and continued support. You have made me the person I am, and because of you, I will succeed. -- UNEMPLOYED ... NOT DOWN AND OUT
DEAR NOT DOWN AND OUT: Thank you for so eloquently pointing out that people who have lost their jobs should not be abandoned, and that the support of friends and family is crucial.
Although family relationships are our primary source of emotional support, the relationships we form at work and our work-related contacts can become like an extended second family.
If these relationships are treated as expendable, it can often be as traumatic as the death of a loved one. When a death occurs, there can be as many as five distinct stages of grief. These are anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, when it comes to job loss, there is also the added element of fear.
This is why I am appealing to you, my readers. No one can ignore the fact that times have grown uncertain. Millions of good, hardworking individuals have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. More bad news may be on the way.
Now is the time for all of us to reach out a hand to encourage and help one another. People who are unemployed should not be made to feel they have been discarded. There is strength in numbers. We will all be stronger if we stand together and observe the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. -- LOVE, ABBY
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I are occasionally invited out to eat at expensive restaurants by a couple with whom we are friendly. The problem is the wife never fails to complain about the food. It's the wrong meal, it was prepared incorrectly, it wasn't what she ordered, etc. Even after her demands have been catered to, she continues to complain throughout the entire meal.
It is embarrassing to see the wait staff treated this way. We have become hesitant about joining them, but out of fear of hurting their feelings, we go. Then we regret having had to spend so much money and having been embarrassed once again.
What should we say the next time we are invited? Should we tell the truth or make up an excuse? -- EMBARRASSED IN OHIO
DEAR EMBARRASSED: The next time you are invited to join them, tell the woman you have "other plans." (It's true. You "plan" not to be embarrassed again.) If, after repeated refusals, the woman asks if there is "something wrong," tell her exactly what you have told me. Her behavior is boorish and a bid for attention.
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