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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have overheard a person who works as an aide at the local elementary school talking about the students -- discussing their special needs, behavioral issues, etc. I think it is appalling that she's relaying confidential information to others in the community. The rule for employees here is, "What happens in the school stays in the school."

I'm not sure what to do. I have heard from her too many times that it was "just an oversight" on her part. Should I let the parents of these students know, or make the school administrators aware of the situation? The people listening are, of course, just as guilty. Perhaps it's not my place to interfere; however, I find her behavior to be unprofessional, and she should not be working in such a setting.

If you publish this, I hope it will be all it takes to open someone's eyes and seal their lips. What do you think? -- BOILING OVER IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR BOILING OVER: I'm printing your letter, but I doubt it will silence the wagging tongue of a gossip who uses confidential information to get attention. What you should do is inform the principal of the school and let him or her "seal the leak." If that doesn't work, you should inform the parents because they may want to take action. But don't jump the gun; go through channels first.

Read more in: Work & School

Friend Is Willing To Help Once, Not Twice

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend whose son is in sales, and he asked to give me a presentation. My friend instructed me that I was under no obligation to purchase anything; he just needed to practice it. I complied and didn't buy anything he was pitching.

He has now contacted me again to do another presentation because he has changed companies and wants to "practice" again. I dislike sales pitches and I'm also very busy. Ordinarily, I would just say no. However, because he's my friend's son I am unsure how to respond. Can you give me any suggestions? -- ANONYMOUS OUT WEST

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Because you agreed previously, the young man may not realize that his asking again is an imposition. All you need to do is tell him that you are very busy. Then explain that you agreed the last time as a special favor to his parent, that you can't do it, but you wish him luck with the new company.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors

Club Member Objects To Hostess's Overbearing Attitude

DEAR ABBY: What do you do when the hostess at a club meeting won't tolerate shared information or food, but instead tells you to be quiet and listen only to her history, gripes and opinions? -- DUES PAYER, ANYWHERE, U.S.A.

DEAR DUES PAYER: Before or after some of those meetings, have a chat with other club members. Find out if they, too, are being treated this way and, if they are, how they feel about it. If you are all dues-paying members and can vote, it may be possible to remove her as hostess. However, if you are the only person she does this with, you might be happier being involved in another organization where your contributions will be appreciated instead of stifled.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics

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