DEAR ABBY: I'm writing to ask what's the classy way to handle a touchy situation. My mother-in-law lives with my husband and me because she's financially unable to live on her own. She sometimes goes away on trips and vacations with her church and "boyfriends."
About a month ago, I noticed several items of nice clothing and shoes had gone missing. I asked if anyone had seen them and got a negative reply. Well, I saw some pictures of my mother-in-law from a recent trip that someone had posted online, and she was wearing some of the missing items. She has since returned, but they haven't been returned.
I haven't confronted her about it yet, but I need to figure out how to get my things back without blowing my top. She does this frequently. They usually turn up after about six months, in places I know I didn't put them. How do I put a stop to this once and for all? Please help me! -- UPSET FASHIONISTA
DEAR UPSET: Show your mother-in-law the pictures you spotted and see how she reacts. You didn't mention whether she may be losing her memory and not remember she has taken things or if she's just light-fingered. The way to fix this would be to install a lock on your closet or bedroom door and use it. (You might also want to explore putting her name on a list for low-cost senior housing if any is available in your community.)
DEAR ABBY: May I vent about something? I work for a public library. A customer came up the other day holding a book she was interested in and asked, "Does this smell like cigarette smoke to you?" It did, so I apologized and added it to the box of items to be disposed of.
This happens often. Books are returned by obviously heavy smokers with the pages so saturated with the odor of stale tobacco that they must be set aside to see if it will dissipate. Sometimes they smell better after a day or so, but often we have no choice but to throw perfectly good books away. It's frustrating, because the cost of books, DVDs and other materials adds up. We don't have a policy for charging the offenders.
So, Abby, I hope you will pass along the "hint" to heavy smokers that if they smoke while reading their library books, they're creating extra costs for the library and their fellow taxpayers, and affecting more than just their own health. -- LIBRARY EMPLOYEE IN WASHINGTON
DEAR L.E.: I understand your problem because many years ago there was no rule in the Dear Abby office against smoking on the premises, and several of my mother's assistants were heavy smokers. In those days, readers' questions all arrived via snail mail rather than via the Internet, and I vividly remember my mother complaining that when letters were delivered to her home, the tobacco odor was so strong it made it hard for her to review them.
Readers, out of consideration for others, please take note and try to refrain from smoking when using library books. The writer of this letter isn't exaggerating.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)