DEAR HARRIETTE: I quit the part-time job I'd had for about three months because I hated it. I have not been able to find another job. Because I quit, I am not receiving unemployment checks. I have been asking around in my neighborhood to see if anyone needs help with odd jobs, but so far, nothing. What can I do? My parents are helping me right now, but that won't last for long. -- Penniless, Rochester, N.Y.
DEAR PENNILESS: For the record, I want to tell you that in the future it is wise to find a job before you quit a job. That is especially true in this fragile economic environment. It is wise to think through your life and figure out a strategy that you then implement.
What you need to do now is map out a strategy. What would you like to do for your work in the long term? What do you know how to do that could be offered in a temporary capacity? Research temp agencies to see if there is one that caters to your skills. Also consider going back to school. If you truly are indigent, you may be able to get financial aid to help pay your fees while you shore up your skills to help you become more marketable.
Finally, ask your parents to help you out for a few more months until you can get on your feet. Offer to do extra work around the house to help out as much as you can.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I sent a special evening dress to the cleaners near my job because it was recommended as an establishment that knows how to clean the material of my dress. When I showed it to them, they agreed that they could do it. When the dress came back, it had shrunk and the color had run. I was outraged. They offered to pay for the dress, which is all well and good, but I cannot get another. It was worth far more to me than the amount that I spent on it. What can I do to feel better about this situation? -- Ripped Clean, Bay City, Mich.
DEAR RIPPED CLEAN: Talk to the manager or owner of the cleaners and express your distress at the loss of the dress. Explain the sentimental value. Perhaps you can ask for a higher price than the amount you paid. But it is important for you to know that sentimental value is hard to equate to dollars and cents. Since you did not clarify a value higher than the cost of the dress before getting it cleaned, it may be difficult to reap a higher amount.
You can speak to the manager about the reputation of the establishment and state that you want them to live up to their reputation by doing right by you at least in terms of compensation. Otherwise, you will take your business elsewhere and tell your friends to do the same.