DEAR ABBY: I went to the market the other day, and there was a woman sitting on the sidewalk with two children -- a boy who looked to be about 6 and a girl about 2. She was holding a sign asking for help ($). I wanted so badly to say something to her about what a poor example she was setting for her children by begging. It made me angry because I imagine she's using her kids as "props" to evoke sympathy.
This is a nice area. I would think she could better present herself to her kids by looking for a job! What would have been an appropriate comment to make to her that might help put her on the right track to show her kids how to grow up to be responsible people who work for a living? -- LOOKING OUT FOR CHILDREN IN IRVINE, CALIF.
DEAR LOOKING: It's wrong to assume anything when you see someone who is panhandling. The woman you saw could have been homeless, drug-addicted, short on money or mentally ill. She could also have fled an abusive husband or partner. That's why it's inappropriate to scold or lecture a panhandler.
If you had said anything at all, you might have offered that there are dozens of shelters and organizations in Irvine that help the unfortunate, and if she reached out to them, she might find the help she needs to get settled and find a job.
DEAR ABBY: My 6-year-old grandson, "Joey," is the light of my life. He's outgoing, compassionate, smart and fun. The "problem" is, he prefers girl things to boy things, and has since he was old enough to express his wants. Fashion, makeup, hairstyles -- he is the expert. His parents grumble, but realize that he can be who he is and be happy, or they can try to change him and he will turn out to be neurotic.
The issue is with the father of a friend of his who will not accept who Joey is. The man yells at Joey for playing with girl things and tells his son to tell on Joey when he does girl things.
Abby, this man is the principal of a middle school. As a retired educator, I want to speak with him about his behavior and the effect it can have on a young child. What could I say that might make him realize that this is not only detrimental to Joey, but to all those young minds he helps to shape on a daily basis? -- LIGHT OF MY LIFE
DEAR LIGHT: Joey's parents should talk to that man and demand that he stop bullying their son. They should warn him that if he scapegoats a child at his school that way, he could wind up in front of the school board and lose his job. He's not only discriminating, but also encouraging the scapegoating of at-risk children. And, I'm sad to say, Joey's parents should probably curtail their son's friendship with the man's son.
DEAR ABBY: I have a co-worker, "Suzette," who, since last month, has begun to smell like kitty litter every day. Suzette is in her mid-50s. While I consider her a friend, she can be temperamental and tends to fly off the handle and run to HR.
I would like to tell her about the odor in case it is something medical that's undiagnosed. Is there a way to say something that won't embarrass her or get me in trouble with HR? -- DELICATE NOSE
DEAR DELICATE: The way to handle this would be to inform HR and let someone there discuss it with her.
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