DEAR READERS: Today marks the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Please take a moment and join me in offering a prayer for those innocent individuals who lost their lives there and in the field in Pennsylvania on that horrific day. If September 11 has taught us anything, it is how strong the American people can be when we are challenged.
DEAR ABBY: How do you prevent damage in your home from children whose parents will not control them while they're visiting? I keep a box of toys and offer them to the children, but they often prefer to handle my personal objects, many of which are heirloom antiques.
One visitor allowed her child to jump on my sofa, then offered to replace a shattered ceramic bowl her son had thrown like a Frisbee. "It's not replaceable," I told her. "It belonged to my great-grandmother." Her response was that I should have put anything valuable out of reach.
It seems even the most polite suggestion to children angers their parents. My parents would never have allowed me to behave disrespectfully in someone's home. Must I show everyone the door because their children behave like animals? -- WHO'S MINDING THE MENAGERIE?
DEAR WHO'S: That's one intelligent option. Conscientious parents take the time to patiently teach their children, as yours did, that they can't touch everything they see. They also think ahead and bring toys they know the kids will enjoy in case they become bored. In cases like this, visit lazy parents only on their own turf or when they're child-free for an afternoon or evening.
DEAR ABBY: I work in an office with mostly women. My husband and I bought a new car a few months ago. Whenever the car comes up in conversation, a few of my co-workers don't hesitate to say what they don't like about it. After I was nice enough to give one of them a ride home one night, she said the "new car smell" gave her a headache.
I would never say anything negative about something like that, but these women seem to enjoy it. I wish I could come back with some smart remark, but they are in higher positions than I am and I don't want to create problems. They don't seem to care if they do, though.
What should I say next time? I tell myself I'll never offer a ride to them again. Let them walk. Am I being rude for thinking that? -- DRIVING MYSELF CRAZY
DEAR DRIVING YOURSELF: Your idea of not providing transportation to the complainers is a good one. My advice is, in the future, not to raise the subject of your new car -- which should reduce the number of comments you hear about it. It's not rude to think something -- but as your co-workers have demonstrated, it can be very insensitive to let everything you think pass your lips unedited.
DEAR ABBY: I work for a package delivery company and there is a problem that's all too common for people in my line of work. Please tell dog owners to confine their dog before opening a door to accept a package.
I have been bitten twice in the past two years by dogs that "don't bite." I have also been scared more times than I can count by dogs that have charged at me. When a customer takes the time to put their dog in another room before coming to the door, I make sure to let him or her know how much I appreciate it. It's difficult to be pleasant and professional when my heart is racing and adrenaline is raging because someone's dog is barking and running at me.
Thanks, Abby, from my fellow delivery drivers and me. -- TWICE BITTEN IN DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.
DEAR TWICE BITTEN: You're welcome. If your letter convinces the owners of aggressive dogs to confine them faster than you can spell L-A-W-S-U-I-T, then its purpose will have been served.