Dear Annie: My wife of nearly 55 years has had a negative attitude for a long time, but it has gotten worse in the past few years. She has become very critical. For instance, she doesn’t care for a local hospital, and in social settings, she proceeds to warn everyone about a long list of grievances she has heard from a secondhand source. She ignores the fact that those to whom she is speaking are not interested in the information.
She endlessly criticizes all family members about everything they do, and not in a constructive way. Every communication includes her high-handed disapproval of their activities to the dismay of everyone within earshot. How can I stop these critiques of everyone and everything? — Tired of Listening
Dear Tired: Some people, as they get older, become more negative and critical. Often, they don’t realize it’s happening. We suggest you gently tell your wife that she is coming across as a bitter person and surely she wouldn’t want others to think ill of her. Perhaps you could work out a silent signal to let her know when her conversation is sliding into the dark side, so she can control it.
Dear Annie: If you want one of the most excruciating pains you’ll ever have, keep smoking. I did for 63 years. I led a physically active life and never thought I’d suffer such horrible ill effects.
Then one day out of the blue, doctors had to do emergency surgery on my right leg due to massive blood clots. After nine days of wondering whether I would ever walk again, I was released. My right foot and thigh are still partially numb, and walking is uncomfortable. Mind you, before that, I led an active, physical life. I’ve had multiple stents put in and an angioplasty. There are better things to do in life than lie in a hospital bed where the nurses come in at 4 a.m. to draw blood.
After my last bout with my leg, I finally kicked the butt habit. It’s been six months, and the smell of cigarette smoke now nauseates me. I never realized how bad it smelled to others. I burned up many thousands of dollars on cigarettes over the years. I was addicted, but thankfully I can live without cigarettes now, although I still get the urge – but all I need is the reminder of the pain in my leg and the fear of having it amputated. Friends and family had urged me to stop for years, but I didn’t listen. It took an event of terrible pain to make me pay attention.
If you’re young, don’t start. If you’re already a smoker, save yourself the inevitable and quit. — Pt. Charlotte, Fla.
Dear Florida: The addiction to nicotine is tough to break, which is why giving up cigarettes can be so difficult. There are plenty of programs to help (try the National Cancer Institute at smokefree.gov or the American Cancer Society at cancer.org). We are glad you finally quit, and we hope others won’t wait until they are in the hospital – or worse.
Dear Annie: Instead of telling “Grossed Out” to contact the health department, she should first speak to the owner immediately. As a restaurant owner myself, I definitely would want to know if an employee was licking her fingers when serving ice cream. It’s unlikely the employee would show her offenses during an inspection.
Since “Grossed” is concerned that the owner might retaliate, maybe she could simply ask the employee, “Aren’t you supposed to wear gloves?” According to the standards set by the health department, all employees must wear gloves when prepping, cooking or handling food.
The general public would be surprised to know how much sickness is passed along by such health no-nos. — Sweet Home Alabama
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.