Dear Annie: My brother and his wife recently stayed with us for nine months. He did some part-time work every now and then. His wife refused to find a job and mostly stayed home.
My wife and I work long hours. We also then had to do the grocery shopping, cooking and taking care of our kids afterward. During this time, my brother and his wife never spent a penny on food or anything else. We politely said that we think it is time for them to find their own place and move out. A few hours later, they left screaming and shouting at us. We were speechless.
My brother says we are cheap because we asked them to leave. What do I tell him? Please help. — Cheap Brother
Dear Brother: Listen closely: You did nothing wrong. Your brother and his wife are first-class freeloaders. They took advantage of your generosity, making no effort to contribute to their upkeep. They would have allowed you to support them financially for the rest of their lives. They are angry because they couldn’t bamboozle you longer than nine months, which is plenty long enough. People who take advantage of others are always the first to cry “foul” when things don’t go their way. We know you care about your relationship with your brother, but nothing will make him happy short of letting him move back in. Please ignore him. Do not defend yourself against his accusations. Do not, under any circumstances, let him guilt you into helping him out again unless it’s to help him find a full-time job. Simply say as calmly as possible, “I’m sorry things didn’t work out for you.” Repeat as necessary.
Dear Annie: I’m still angry about something. The day after Thanksgiving was trash pickup in my neighborhood. Lo and behold, sticking out of my trash container was a Christmas card from my recycling collector, complete with his name and address. Two days later, I found the same type of card tucked into my newspaper from our carrier. This one included a mailing envelope. The next week, it was the garbage man.
I know we should remember these people during the holidays, and I have no problem showing my appreciation. But it’s long past Christmas, and I have yet to hear any of them say “thank you” to me. Shouldn’t they? How hard is it to write the words “thank you” on the same type of card that they managed to give me in search of a tip?
I’ve worked in the service industry for years and have always acknowledged a gift. Am I expecting too much? — Connecticut
Dear Connecticut: Not at all. It is simply good manners to say thank you, and no one is exempt. Anyone who receives a gift, including the newspaper carrier and the trash collector, should acknowledge it either in person or by note if they expect to endear themselves to their clientele the following holiday season.
Dear Annie: I totally agree with “I Need Nice Clothes, Too.” There may be more large-sized clothes than before, but she’s right about how ugly they are. Most of them look like something you’d use to upholster a sofa. No one wants those loud colors and patterns, and some of them are covered with sequins. Why not just put a flashing light on them?
Here in Canada, I suspect we have less of a selection than you do in the States. Some of our biggest retailers continue to feature small departments with plus sizes and the ugliest things you’ve ever seen. It’s probably why you see plus-size women wearing clothes that are too small for them. I’m — Waiting for Nice Clothes, Too
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.