DEAR ABBY: While standing in a checkout line yesterday, I witnessed a cashier speak to the older woman in front of me in a condescending manner. She kept calling her "Sweetie" and talking to her as if she were a 3-year-old. The woman was obviously offended, but said nothing.
I experienced this kind of behavior often when my mother was alive. Receptionists, waitresses, store clerks and others would direct their questions to me and talk to me while my mother stood there, perfectly capable of answering the questions herself. I'm sure these people did not intend to be rude or disrespectful. However, it was extremely annoying to both Mother and me.
Because a person is elderly does not mean he or she is senile. Regardless of their mental capacity, older people have earned the right to be treated with dignity and respect. -- OFFENDED IN KINGSPORT, TENN.
DEAR OFFENDED: I'm glad you wrote. I have seen it happen, too, and with people who should have known better. And when it did happen, the offender was sometimes called on it in a way that wasn't at all "sweet."
Readers, if this letter strikes a familiar chord, please remember that most senior citizens are completely in control of their faculties and treat them accordingly. (Or risk losing a customer.)
DEAR ABBY: At least two or three times a week, I receive requests for donations from various organizations. Many times the envelopes contain address labels, calendars and notepads. As much as I would like, I can't afford to donate to every cause. Is it wrong to use these "gifts" if I don't contribute? It's a shame to waste them -- especially the address labels. No one else can use them.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who struggles with this moral dilemma. I'd really like your input. -- FEELING GUILTY IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR FEELING GUILTY: The organizations that send those unsolicited mailings count on the recipients feeling so guilty that they'll send something. If using the unsolicited "gifts" makes you feel guilty, toss them or don't open the envelope in the first place.
Compile a list of those causes that you wish to give to, decide what amount you have to donate to all of them, divide the total and send your checks. And as you do, check them off your list to make sure you won't accidentally give twice because many (not all) organizations solicit more than once a year, hoping donors will forget they have given and send more.
DEAR ABBY: I am seeing a therapist for my depression. The problem is I find myself wanting to have sexual relations with him. I'm 23, and he's older than my father, who is 63! What's wrong with me? Obviously, I can't have an affair with my therapist, and I desperately do not want to change doctors. Please help. -- LOVESICK PATIENT IN MONTANA
DEAR LOVESICK: What's going on with you is very common. There is a name for it: transference. While this may be embarrassing to you, I assure you your therapist has heard it before. It's not necessary that you change doctors, but it is important that you be honest about your feelings. (Nobody ever said therapy was for the faint of heart!)
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