Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Brash Man Needs to Learn What "Quiet" Means

DEAR HARRIETTE: I commute to work via rail every day. There are designated quiet cars in the back of the train. Here, people typically stay silent and allow others to get some extra shuteye or read the paper. Recently, there's been a brash businessman talking loudly on the phone in the quiet car. I hoped this would happen only once, but it's been more than a week. He is quiet when the conductor comes by, and then he begins barking about business deals. What can I say to him that'll get my message across? He doesn't seem like he'd take kindly to being told to can it. -- Shh!, Scarsdale, New York

DEAR SHH!: You should not say anything to this man. Instead, solicit the conductor by searching for him and telling him about the man’s behavior and asking him to speak on behalf of the others in the quiet car. Cite examples of how this man has rudely and shrewdly spoken loudly on the phone on a daily basis for more than a week. Tell the conductor how unfair you believe his behavior is and that you are asking for his support.

If you can, use your smartphone to film the man when he is in action. If you can discreetly capture him, even if you just get his voice, the conductor will have evidence to support your claim. Good luck!

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics

Daughter's Bathroom Habits Are Cause for Concern

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter has started going into the bathroom directly after every meal. I know this is ringing the alarm for an eating disorder, but she doesn’t do anything in the restroom. I genuinely just think she stands there and waits for us to give her attention and fawn over her. There is no running water, and not even a toilet flush. Should I entertain this behavior by asking her if she needs professional help? “Jenny” has dramatic tendencies, and has even pretended to faint in public. -- Probably on Her Phone, Boston

DEAR PROBABLY ON HER PHONE: Before asking Jenny if she needs professional help, ask her what she’s doing in the bathroom. Express your concern that she goes to the bathroom immediately after meals and lingers there for a long time. Ask what she’s doing while she’s in there. You are correct in being concerned and also smart to think that it could be that this is her private time away from her parents when she can connect with friends, either via social media, texting or a traditional phone call.

You should check her phone to see who she’s been texting and calling. She may balk at this, but it is your right as her parent. If she refuses, you can take the phone away from her for a time. Rather than getting into emotional fisticuffs with Jenny, your goal should be to get her to open up to you. Since you believe she faked a fainting spell, you may want her to see a therapist anyway just to check to see how she’s navigating the teen years. She won’t like that, either, so I recommend making it a requirement rather than an option.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Mental Health | Teens