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Keep A Healthy Distance Apart

Dear Ann Landers: I am “Freddie,” the son whose mother wrote to you and complained that her daughter-in-law didn’t want children. She wanted her son to get a divorce. You told her, “MYOB.”

Your advice was right. My mother has created an almost unbearable situation for me. She and my wife haven’t spoken in more than a year and don’t see eye to eye on anything. My mother is the type of person who thrives on controversy and accentuates the negative. She believes life is one huge conspiracy directed against her, and she cannot, under any circumstances, forgive anyone for anything.

My wife isn’t always right and I have told her so. My mother doesn’t believe I’ve ever taken her side. I have attempted many times to bring about some kind of reconciliation, but how can I do that when my mother has openly stated that she despises my wife? Mom has also done her best to make sure my siblings dislike her as well. I can’t blame my wife for not wanting to mend the relationship. She has taken a lot of abuse from my mother and has announced that she’s not taking any more.

The real problem is that my mother will never take your advice. She will simply disregard it the way she does whenever anyone suggests that she is in the wrong. Your recommendation that she apologize to us for meddling in our personal business will also go unheeded. What do you suggest now?

I don’t want my mother to know I wrote this letter, so please put me in - Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Friend in Switzerland: Apparently, your mother is not only a meddler but stubborn as a Missouri mule. Your best bet is to keep as much real estate as possible between your wife and your mother and give your wife total support. Too bad Mom has alienated the entire family. You can be sure the price for her meddling and negative attitude is loneliness.

Dear Ann Landers: I am a secretary for a construction company. My boss travels a lot and is often gone for a week at a time. I answer the phones and frequently wind up talking to someone who insists on speaking to the boss.

When I say he’s out of town and ask, “What is it that you want to talk to him about?” the caller gets angry and hangs up. This happens at least 10 times a week. Sometimes, my boss is in the office but doesn’t want to accept phone calls. I have been instructed to say he is in a meeting. Many callers resent this and become nasty. Some have outright accused me of lying.

These people have forgotten two things - first, their manners, and second, it’s my job to screen my employer’s calls. My loyalty is to him.

So for all you rude people who call and hang up on secretaries because you can’t talk to the boss, you had better start being civil to us or you will never get through. I don’t care how many times you call, if you refuse to tell me who you are and the nature of your business, my boss does not want to talk to you.

His signature is on my paycheck, so I do things his way. Sign me - Just Doing My Job in Calif.

Dear Calif.: A first-rate secretary can usually get that information without alienating the caller. Protecting the boss against pests and time-wasters is indeed part of your job, but if you alienate or anger the callers, you are doing your boss a disservice. Lighten up, lady.

Gem of the Day: If nature had arranged that husbands and wives would alternate having children, there would never be more than three in a family.


 
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