DEAR HARRIETTE: I have just purchased my first car ever. Although it is a used car, it is in immaculate condition, and I hope to keep it this way for a long time. Many of my friends have had their cars purchased for them by their parents, and they don't respect their vehicles -- or mine. I am sick of dirty shoes being put up on my dash and food being dropped onto the seats. How can I make rules that will be enforced? I feel like a parent in my own car. -- Clean Car, Detroit
DEAR CLEAN CAR: Teaching others to respect your property is not always an easy job. Beware that it may cost you some friends, and it might even earn you an unfavorable nickname. As you put it, having to be a parent in your own car may not be the most fun, but it is the only way to lay down the law and have your friends honor it.
So what should you do? Let your friends know they can ride in your car only if they abide by your rules. Outline the rules -- from no food to no feet on the dash. Include no alcohol and anything else you have seen them do that may bother you. If they balk or do not honor your wishes, simply do not offer them a ride anymore.