Dear Annie: I am retiring at the end of the week and am worried. I have been married for 27 years to my second husband. For the past 24, he has not once touched me, said “I love you” or displayed any affection. He is a good stepfather to my children and a wonderful grandfather, but there is absolutely nothing for me.
I am a very social person, but he is happy reading or working in our garden. When we do something together, it is invariably what he wants to do. We go where he wants to go and eat what he wants to eat.
I feel I have let life pass me by. My marriage vows said “until death us do part,” so divorce is out of the question. Will I be able to find happiness in retirement? I’m dreading it.
— Is There Hope for Me?
Dear Hope: Since divorce is not an option, please use your energy to carve out your own life within your marriage. Assert your independence, and do some things just for yourself. Join a book club, choir, theater group or political organization. Volunteer your time at a children’s hospital. Take a trip with friends. You also might find it beneficial to get some counseling, with or without your husband, to help you navigate the rest of your life in a way that brings you some type of happiness and satisfaction. It’s not too late. Just take the first step.
Dear Annie: What happens if you invite your son’s classmate to his birthday party, and the parent gives you a list of things he’s not allowed to eat — not for health reasons, but for religious or moral ones, and the kid wants to eat them anyway?
For example, what if the family keeps kosher, but the kid wants the non-kosher hamburgers? Or the parents are strict vegans and don’t want their child to eat anything with meat, milk or eggs, but the kid doesn’t care and wants the hot dogs and birthday cake? Do I forcibly keep the child away from the unapproved food? Or do I say, “My house, my rules”?
— Gary, Ind.
Dear Gary: We know it can be difficult when you feel you are catering to a wide swath of food restrictions, but the parents’ rules apply. You must tell the child, “Sorry, but your parents said you aren’t allowed to have that.” Of course, it would be a kindness to serve something that all the kids can eat, and it’s not as complicated as you might think. Ask the parents for assistance. And if you cannot accommodate the child’s requirements, please inform the parents ahead of time. They may prefer to pack him his own food or not send him.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Tired of Poor Customer Service.” I have been in customer service for 30 years. I have been cussed at, threatened, had food thrown at me and worse, all the while with a smile on my face.
I love working with the public, but the public needs to remember that I am there to provide a service. I’m not your slave. I deserve to be treated with respect the same as you. I don’t respond well to rudeness and demands. I will help any way I can, but if I can’t get you what you want, don’t blame me, swear at me and tell me I’m stupid. It is not my fault that you lost your job, your marriage is failing, your car broke down or your dog died. I am sympathetic, but don’t take it out on me.
I agree that customer service is becoming a thing of the past. But, dear customer, take a look at yourself, as well. Would you want to be treated the way you have treated me? A smile, a kind gesture and a positive attitude go a long way on both sides of the counter.
— Still Smiling in Indiana
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 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.