DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of the family was rude to me recently. He is my father's best friend, and he has been out of work for years. He used to work full time, was fired and has not been able to find a job since. His wife supports them both, and they have no children. I have a part-time job and am still in school. There is a 30-year difference in our ages, and I have always respected the opinions of those senior to me. However, my father's best friend decided that it was his responsibility to tell me that a part-time job will never support me, that I am delusional and that I do not know how to work hard. Although alcohol probably aided his honesty toward me, I felt it was impossible to defend myself without coming off as rude. He does not even have a job!
I responded by saying that I am trying my best to juggle saving money for myself and getting an education, and the conversation seemed to end there. No one defended me while this was happening, probably because they did not want to bring up the fact that the friend does not have any job to begin with. How do I defend myself politely next time without causing a scene? -- New Generation, Detroit
DEAR NEW GENERATION: Fueled by inebriation, your father's friend was likely speaking his truth by expressing the loss and missed opportunities that can come from not having a full-time, well-paying job. Take his comments as fuel that will ensure that you keep up your energy to complete your education and build a life for yourself of your own design that will fund your lifestyle. Next time you get caught in a conversation with him when he is lecturing you, excuse yourself and leave the room. Do not engage someone who is drunk and belligerent. It will never work to your advantage.