Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Son Struggles to Accept Dad's Preference for Men

DEAR ABBY: I'm an office manager, bookkeeper and the receptionist. What I am NOT is a maid. I have lost count of the number of times I have walked into the break room to have my lunch or get a quick cup of tea and found spilled coffee/sugar/creamer all over the counter. I clean it up when I find it because I don't like using a dirty counter, but I don't feel I should have to because I didn't make the mess.

I have considered sending out an e-mail to the office staff about cleaning up after themselves, but the issue turns my crank enough that I'm having trouble being polite about it. Every e-mail I draft makes me sound like a nagging mother, and I know when my mom nagged me it certainly never worked -- it just annoyed me.

Have you any suggestions about what I can say that will get results without offending? -- LAURA IN SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR LAURA: Forgo the e-mail. Post a sign in the break room, and here's what it should say: "The maid has retired. You're on your own. If you spill something, please make sure this counter is wiped clean or I will strike you dead with a bolt of lightning," and sign it, "God."