DEAR ABBY: I have been teaching for 30 years in the same school district. I can't tell you how many times 30- to 45-year-old men have come up to me and said, "You don't remember me, do you?" When they were in elementary school, they were not sporting facial hair and didn't have receding hairlines. Still, I feel bad not being able to make their day by spouting off their first and last names.
All of my students are special to me. However, although some of these men attended my school, not all of them were in my classroom. I'm flattered they recognize me, but what's the best way to respond in a situation like this?
Also, could you give your readers some suggestions about how to approach former educators so we won't have to rummage frantically through the file cabinets of our brains trying to decide which child from the past this grown-up might be? -- STRUGGLING TO RECALL IN ARKANSAS
DEAR STRUGGLING: When someone approaches you and says, "You don't remember me, do you?" an appropriate response would be, "Refresh my memory!" Said with a smile, it shouldn't be offensive.
This potentially embarrassing problem can easily be avoided if the former student simply says, "Mrs. Jones, it's so nice to see you. I'm 'John Smith' and you were my teacher in 1991."
DEAR ABBY: We have some neighbors who recently bought a large parrot they keep in a cage in their backyard. This bird squawks so loudly we can hear it inside our home with the windows closed, and we are no longer able to enjoy our own backyard or patio.
Their yard is fenced in, so I haven't met or even seen these neighbors. For the life of me, I cannot understand how someone could subject others to this kind of intrusion. It is so disrespectful. We can only assume the bird is kept outside so they don't have to listen to its loud screeching inside their own home.
The bird squawks loudly about every 10 to 15 seconds and it goes on for hours -- usually in the mornings and evenings. My nerves are rattled and I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. I hesitate to call the authorities because I am worried about the consequences. What would you suggest? -- FOR THE BIRDS IN FLORIDA
DEAR F.T.B.: Unfortunately, some people decide to buy parrots without first researching what's involved in their proper care and maintenance. Parrots are gregarious creatures and must be kept socialized with another parrot or with the humans who care for them. They also require mental stimulation to remain psychologically healthy.
Because their natural habitat is the rainforest, they have loud voices so they can communicate over long distances. Your neighbors obviously didn't take that into consideration when they bought the bird and decided to house it outside.
Inform them politely about the noise problem their bird is creating and ask that they house it inside. If they refuse, inform the Humane Society or the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to ensure that the enclosure is being kept clean, and that the bird is being fed a healthy diet and has access to clean water. As a last resort, if necessary, inform local law enforcement that your neighbor's parrot is creating a sound nuisance.
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