Dear Annie: I work in a large organization and know my colleagues quite well. Though I enjoy working with them, a number of them recently have begun borrowing cash from me. These are usually requests for small amounts to cover the cost of lunch or coffee, but over time, they add up. Not a single one of them has ever voluntarily repaid me. When I ask, the person inevitably looks surprised, smacks his or her forehead and says, “Sorry, I forgot,” before handing over the money.
It’s not that I don’t want to be helpful and collegial, but I have come to realize that if I don’t pursue those in my debt, I’ll never get the money back and will have to write off those sums. Even if my colleagues aren’t doing this intentionally, I can’t help thinking that in some way, I’m encouraging irresponsible behavior.
Is there a professionally appropriate way of saying no the next time I’m asked for cash? — California Casey
Dear California: You have apparently been tagged as an “easy mark” in your office. It’s perfectly OK to say pleasantly and politely, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t loan you the cash today.” You don’t have to give a reason. If you say it often enough, they will assume you don’t carry that much money any longer or that you aren’t willing to part with it. Either way, they will leave you alone.
Dear Annie: I would appreciate an objective viewpoint regarding my (just) 16-year-old daughter’s request to have her belly button pierced.
”Olivia” is an honor student and all-around wonderful daughter. But I am having trouble being objective about the piercing. I am opposed on several levels. First, it is a waste of money. Second, there is pain and, more importantly, the risk of infection or worse. I also feel she is too young and still growing. She is very slender, but I’ve advised her that her shape is likely to “fill out” in the next several years.
Her twin sister, her mom and I enjoy reading your column every morning at breakfast. Am I being overly concerned? — Worried Papa
Dear Worried: Your concerns are perfectly valid, but Olivia could present a counterargument to each. The pain is something she is apparently willing to tolerate, the “waste of money” is a matter of opinion, and the risk of infection (or worse) is lessened if the piercing is done by a reputable professional under hygienic circumstances. As for her shape, her navel is not likely to do all that much growing.
The better reason, Dad, is that you object. You are still her father and can say no if this makes you uncomfortable. She always has the option of piercing her navel at a later date. We think you and your wife should have an honest discussion with Olivia about this and see whether you can reach an agreement.
Dear Annie: “Thwarted” was right on the money. Women my age are definitely in a “trapped” situation. We did everything the good girls were supposed to do. But men are looking for someone in their 20s who will take care of their every dream. Their trophy wives will inherit the bulk of the assets that women like “Thwarted” enabled their husbands to acquire – everything from education to taking care of them and their mothers.
It sounds lovely and glib to say just go out there and volunteer, get involved in activities and churches, and hopefully meet other women who are in the same place. But what about the men? The majority are looking for a nurse and a purse once their libidos and bodies start to wane. — 62 Married to a 75-Year-Old with No Reciprocity in Sight
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.