Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Dear Annie: Approaching the family after suicide

By Annie Lane Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: I read your articles in my local paper. I know it’s hard to always find the right answer for someone, as some may agree with you and some may disagree. It is now that I come to you for some words of wisdom. I hope someone else out there like me will read this and help gather some advice to send our way, too.

We had a close friend kill himself recently. It was devastating to everyone, especially for his family. I still find myself trying to find the right words to say to the family members. When I see them, I really don’t want to ask, ”How are you doing?” I know that opens the wounds every time they hear that, and I know it’s killing them, too. But I also know they would consider me insensitive if I were not to say anything about things at all. What is something proper to say or ask? You’re never prepared for this, and there is no simple etiquette regarding this delicate subject. – Sudden Loss for Words in TN

Dear Sudden: I’m so sorry for your loss. You’re right; there is no simple etiquette in the face of pain that is so profound and personal. Don’t worry yourself about finding the right words to say. Your feelings will surpass your phrasing.

Extend your warmth to the family members the next time you see them by letting them know you’re thinking of them, even if they need some space for the time being. Tell them, in your own words, that you will always be there for them in whatever capacity they need. What matters is that you are a loving presence in their lives.

Dear Annie: I’d like to offer a different position than the letters I’ve seen addressing “Frustrated in Maine’s” dislike of being asked by a restaurant’s waitstaff whether he would like change.

I think that this is an argument of semantics and part of the generational divide, much like the inherent dislike of the phrase “no problem” (which is a whole different can of worms).

After speaking with a few other young people, I’ve found a pattern: Many millennials prefer to work with whole numbers when paying for meals. So rather than calculate a 15 percent tip exactly, they’ll approximate it and round to the nearest dollar (or to the nearest bill they have available). As long as the difference isn’t too great, they’re content to perhaps give closer to a 20-25 percent tip to a good waiter if that means they won’t have to deal with small change.

Hence, waitstaff has come into the habit of asking, “Would you like your change?” It’s less fishing for a tip and more asking, “Have you included my tip in the money you gave me, or do you want me to bring back the change?” In such a busy environment as a restaurant, I don’t blame servers for trying to save an extra trip back to the table. When the difference is very large (for example, when someone uses a $50 bill on a $20 tab), they usually won’t even ask and will simply bring the change.

I doubt any of these servers are intending to be rude, and I’m completely astounded that people would withhold tip money (which makes up the majority of waitstaff’s pay) over something so petty – especially if someone was an otherwise wonderful server. – Flabbergasted in North Dakota

Send your questions for Annie Lane to To find out more about Annie Lane and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM