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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I overheard my boss talking about something that sounded like a cover-up for an "accident" involving some people he doesn't like. I would like to report him to the police, but he knows I heard him and I'm afraid if the police question him, my little girl or I could wind up having an "accident," too.

What should I do? Several people are already in the hospital. -- WORRIED SICK

DEAR WORRIED: Because you are afraid you or your child could be in danger, find another job and put as much distance between you and your sociopathic boss as possible. And, as "insurance," discuss not only what you heard -- but also your concerns -- with your religious adviser before contacting the authorities "confidentially." All it takes for evil to flourish is for men (and women) of good conscience to remain silent.

DEAR ABBY: I am a hospitalist, a physician who cares for hospitalized patients. When I enter a patient's room, I invariably find the television blaring. Usually the patient or family members will make no effort to mute the TV, and I must turn it off myself. Because they are paying me to communicate, I would assume they would want to hear what I have to say.

Occasionally patients have expressed irritation at having their TV turned off (they can turn it back on using the bedside control). It seems to me that good manners require one to turn off the television or radio or hang up the phone when the physician makes rounds. Am I wrong? -- HOSPITALIST IN THE NORTHEAST

DEAR HOSPITALIST: You have my sympathy. Dr. Oz, Ellen and "The View" are stiff competition.

No, you are not wrong. Not only is it good manners, it makes good sense to give full attention to everything the doctor has to say, as well as be able to answer any questions free of distraction. However, because your patients may not be thinking clearly -- if they were they would use better manners -- you are absolutely right to turn off the set after a brief explanation why.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married to my wife, "Leigh," for seven years. We have two sons, ages 4 and 2. I love Leigh and our sons very much.

Over the years I became increasingly dependent on drinking (beer). I have never been abusive, but Leigh expressed concern about it. I didn't think the problem was anything we couldn't deal with.

A little over a year ago, Leigh's mother died of cancer. It has been an extremely emotional time for her, and she has now decided she can no longer tolerate my behavior. She's not even sure she's in love with me anymore.

Hearing her say it made me realize how big a deal my drinking is, and I am committed to changing. But after a month of trying, Leigh still says she would be better off alone. She is starting counseling soon. I told her I'd go with her.

This is a painful period for us, and I can't imagine my life without her and the kids. Is it too late? -- SCARED SOBER IN AUSTIN

DEAR SCARED: That remains to be seen. One month of sobriety isn't enough to make up for years of being emotionally absent because you had a "buzz" going. Counseling may help you both, but you need more than that. If you are sincere about kicking the habit, you will join an alcohol rehab program. A listing for Alcoholics Anonymous is as near as your telephone directory -- and so is Al-Anon, which could help your wife, who may still be grieving the loss of her mother.

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