DEAR ABBY: We have a summer house on an island. For a number of years, we have employed a local woman, "Trudy," as our housekeeper. She does a fantastic job and has always been friendly, reliable and trustworthy.
A friend I'll call Madge has also used Trudy. At the end of last summer, she fired Trudy, insisting she had stolen clothes from a "third party," trespassed in their home during the winter, had been seen drunk, etc. Madge is now urging me to fire Trudy, even though the "third party" neighbor has not said a word to me about her. Madge has succeeded in convincing two other families to fire Trudy. The island is a very small community, and Madge is ruining Trudy's livelihood.
I don't believe what Madge is saying and feel pressured and bothered by her accusations. So far I am shrugging off her rabid ramblings. I plan to use Trudy again this summer, but Madge insists I am a fool ever to use her again.
Madge bad-mouthed the golf pro two years ago, saying how incompetent he was. I now hear he has been fired. I assume this gives Madge a feeling of power, but I feel sorry for her victims -- and I don't want to be her next one.
I want to help Trudy. What would you suggest I do about this very sticky situation? -- PART-TIME ISLAND DWELLER
DEAR PART-TIME DWELLER: Avoid Madge. She is a troubled and vindictive bully. Help Trudy to find a lawyer who can put a stop to this woman's character assassination before it completely destroys her business.