DEAR HARRIETTE: I receive endless calls from solicitors asking me to give money for their various causes. If I ever give any company money, I get called over and over again with more pushy requests. I am sick of it. Sometimes I hang up on the people, but I feel bad about that, because I know they are just doing their jobs.
How can I be respectful of solicitors without being stuck on the phone with them when I am not planning on spending money on the day they call? -- Fed Up, Washington, D.C.
DEAR FED UP: If you have caller ID on your phone, you may want to pay closer attention to it. If you do not recognize a number, particularly a toll-free number, let it go to voice mail. Usually solicitors do not leave messages, as they believe they are best at securing solicitations in live conversations.
I understand your temptation to hang up on these callers and your discomfort in so doing. I rarely hang up on them directly. Instead, I interrupt them the moment I figure out what they are pitching.
I usually have to be a bit pushy myself to get a word in. I say, "Excuse me, I don't want to waste your time. Thank you for calling, but I am not interested right now." I sometimes wait for them to say "thank you" and end the conversation, but if I can tell that they are going to ignore me and steamroll through with their prescriptive text, I say "goodbye" and hang up. See if this strategy helps to relieve you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex called to let me know that his mother passed away. He was very upset, and it made me upset, too. She and I were very close when he and I were together. It has been about 10 years since we split, and we have our own lives. I feel kind of bad that I didn't stay in touch with her.
During the call, he asked if I would attend the funeral. I want to do so, but I think my husband might not like it. He knows about my ex, of course, but my ex hasn't been in my life at all over these years. What should I do? -- Funeral Etiquette, Shreveport, La.
DEAR FUNERAL ETIQUETTE: What does your heart say? Pay attention to that voice inside. It sounds as if you would like to attend out of respect for this woman's life and to support your ex.
There's nothing wrong with that -- provided you handle it appropriately with your husband. Don't assume that your husband will disapprove. If you honestly have no untoward feelings for your ex and want to attend out of respect and grief, tell your husband. You can even ask him to join you if he would like.
Most important is for you to be completely forthcoming with your husband so that he understands your position and state of mind.