DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is gay, but our other friend still uses the word "gay" to describe things she thinks are stupid. She says our gay friend doesn't mind, but I think he does -- he would just never admit it. Should I act on my instinct and tell her she needs to stop, or should I just let it go? -- Keeping It PC, Miami
DEAR KEEPING IT PC: By all means, speak up. Words are powerful, and how we use them is important. Being insensitive to the use of a word like "gay" is actually what is stupid. (Do you see how even saying the word "stupid" is fiery? I believe in searching for uncharged words to describe feelings and thoughts.)
Talk to your friend about her choice of words and make it clear that you find her speech offensive. This is true regardless of whether she is in the company of your gay friend, by the way. It's important to acknowledge that wherever you are and no matter the company, using language in a charged way like that is unwise because it continues a narrative of insensitivity that is unkind.
Your gay friend may or may not mind. But that isn't even the point. What's key here is for your friend to recognize that words have the ability to empower or hurt. Choosing empowerment is the way to go.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I made a silly and potentially costly mistake. I received an email from a friend suggesting that I look into a way to earn money from home. The link looked like a site from a television station, with articles and testimonials from a variety of people who said they earned money in this way. I found it intriguing. I did try to reach my friend to see if he had tried it, but I didn't hear back from him. (Later, he said his email was hacked.)
I got lured into the promise of earning extra money and signed up for it. Of course it required a small fee, which I paid. And then nothing. I didn't ever get to the place where I would earn all this money.
Now I'm worried that my credit card may be compromised. What can I do? -- Hoodwinked, Los Angeles
DEAR HOODWINKED: Usually, if something seems too good to be true, it is. I'm sorry this happened to you, but all may not be lost.
Contact your credit card company and tell them that you believe the charge was fraudulent. Explain what happened and ask if they can stop payment and/or place an alert that the company you paid practices fraud. Credit card companies have departments set up to help customers with such things, so there's a good chance you will be reimbursed and your account can be protected from that company charging you again.