Dear Annie: I am a 62-year-old great-grandmother. Ten years ago, I committed a nonviolent felony. I served weekends in jail for a year, paid restitution, made every visit to my probation officer and complied with all of the other terms of my conviction and release. I am honest with any potential employer about my past, my rehabilitation and my goal to never do a criminal act again. I have been a model citizen since this happened. I know I have to do better in my life than everyone else to make up for what I did. But I cannot get a job.
Society seems to view anyone who commits a crime as the scum of the Earth and not worth employing (unless you are a celebrity or have lots of money). Because I can’t get a job, I cannot buy a car or find an apartment or even buy my grandchildren a candy bar. What is the point of “paying your debt to society” if “society” never forgives you? The death sentence would have made more sense than the five years’ probation I received. No, I am not depressed, only stating what is true. — Wish I Could Turn Back Time
Dear Wish: We agree that you deserve a second chance. There are places and organizations that specialize in hiring and placing those with a criminal record. Please contact the Safer Foundation (saferfoundation.org) and the National Hire Network (hirenetwork.org). Consider volunteering at a local organization that might eventually offer a paid position. You might also find help through the U.S. Dept. of Labor (www.doleta.gov/usworkforce/onestop/onestopmap.cfm) at 877-US2-JOBS (877-872-5627) or servicelocator.org. Goodwill Industries has been known to help with job training and placement. Many states offer programs to help ex-offenders get back into the job market, so check online, at City Hall or through the governor’s office. We wish you the best of luck.
Dear Annie: I’m a member of a local co-ed gym. There’s one woman in her late 60s who has a habit of taking the morning newspaper into the toilet with her. When I’ve told her the paper should remain in the social area, she says I’m nuts. Am I wrong, or is this a social no-no? — No Tainted Paper in Louisville, Ky.
Dear Louisville: Wasn’t this an episode of “Seinfeld”? It’s a social no-no. While your gym buddy may have kept the paper in pristine condition, there is no way for others to be certain, and it makes people squeamish to think of what may have accidentally gotten on the paper before they had a chance to read it. Ask management to post a sign indicating reading material should stay in the social area.
Dear Annie: So “Betsey” thinks those 80-year-old parents have no right to know when their adult children will be out of town?
I am a senior citizen with three adult children living out of town. I constantly worry that I won’t be able to locate them should an emergency arise. When my husband died suddenly, I was so thankful that my children were home when I called. What if they had been on one of their extended vacations? What if they had phoned upon their return and said, “Hi, Mom. Just got back from vacation and called to see how you are. How are Dad’s golf games going?” and I had to reply, “I’m sorry. Dad asked for you just before he died. I had to bury him without you. It was a nice funeral. Everybody asked about you. I hope you enjoyed your vacation”?
Staying in touch with one’s relatives is not being a nosy parent. It is a common courtesy for your benefit as well as theirs. It only takes a minute to call and say you will be out of town for a few days and where you can be reached. — Another Concerned Mother
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.