DEAR ABBY: I work with a woman who talks to dragonflies and believes she was abducted by aliens. She's one of those people who come across as sweet and caring, but complain and gossip behind your back. I work in close proximity to her and must interact with her daily. I can't stand her, yet she relentlessly tries to "befriend" me regardless of how hard I try to make it clear I'm not interested.
Recently there was a fire in my home and our family was left with nothing. Miss "X" offered me her deceased mother's dinner set. I felt awkward accepting it, but because she told me it made her feel good to spread parts of her mother around, I accepted. Now I regret accepting it because she thinks I'm indebted to her, and she makes my life miserable trying to engage me in mindless conversations during work.
Abby, I thanked her for the dinner set at the time she gave it to me. How long do I have to pretend to like her? -- NOT INTERESTED
DEAR NOT INTERESTED: You always have to be polite and considerate, because that's common courtesy. A way to handle this would be for you to return the dinner set to Miss "X," thanking her warmly for "lending" it to you in your time of need. (I assume you have the means to buy one now.) And when she tries to engage you in personal conversations, tell her kindly but firmly that you have a lot of work to do and no time to talk.