Retail workers endure unfair abuse from angry customers

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin

DEAR ABBY: I'm considered an essential employee during this pandemic. I am writing on behalf of myself and all retail workers.

First let me say that it is my pleasure to serve on the front line. We are all a little apprehensive, but we feel we are called to help.

Our problem: A lot of shoppers coming into our stores are extremely rude to us. They are angry when they encounter longer lines and waiting times. One customer actually spit on a plexiglass shield we put up to protect our cashiers. They also bring small children and babies in with them to shop.

We have been cursed at and yelled at for reasons beyond our control. Please let the public know we are trying our best to serve them even though a lot of us are afraid for our health and the health of our families. My daughter is a nurse, and she has experienced some of the same things. -- IN THIS TOGETHER

DEAR IN THIS: Your letter carries an important message. There is no excuse for the abuse you have described. Fear, stress and extended isolation have brought out the worst in some of us.

I don't offer this in an attempt to excuse unacceptable behavior, but the customers you describe appear to be so upset and on edge that they can no longer control their emotions. Yes -- some of them are also entitled, impatient and arrogant. Personally, I think that when a customer acts out, the store manager should step in and remove that person from the premises. Some stores have increased their security staff to deal with this. If enough managers did this, customers would be put on notice that bad behavior won't be tolerated.

P.S. As to mothers with babies and small children who are unable to arrange for child care while they shop, try to cut them some slack because they may be doing it because they have no other choice.

DEAR ABBY: My situation concerns my significant other's 18-year-old daughter. I have been dating (now living with) "Frank" for two years. I have been a big help to him. With a healthy diet and loving care, I have helped him to lose more than 50 pounds, which got him off insulin that we were paying $250 every 10 days for.

I have always been nice to his daughter, "Franny," on the rare occasions I have been around her. I wasn't in the picture when her parents divorced. Frank's family, i.e. sister and son, have accepted me, and his sister tells me often how much she loves me and appreciates all I have done for her brother.

Franny, on the other hand, refuses to visit him or even call him "unless he gets rid of me." He loves me, but I worry this is breaking his heart. He naturally loves his daughter.

The reason she says she hates me is, I'm older than he is -- actually, quite a bit older. Should I approach her to talk about it, or should I just leave things as they are? -- "OLD" GAL IN THE SOUTH

DEAR GAL: You are not responsible for Frank's pain or his daughter's attempts at emotional blackmail. Leave things as they are. The person to talk some sense into Franny is her father, not you.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have been married for 40 years. We were opposites who were attracted to each other and enjoyed a lot of the same things.

For the last 20 years, my wife has been taking an antidepressant (prescribed by her primary care physician, not a psychiatrist), and she has every side effect of the drug. For years I have tried without success to get her to seek help.

Although we still live in the same house, we have been going our own ways for the last year and a half. Even though my wife is a good person, I do not want to spend the rest of my life living with someone who is incapable of having a decent conversation, let alone being able to or having a need to be intimate.

I am going to move out. My question is, do I tell our children we are separating because their mom is addicted to a drug, or should I just be the bad guy and take the blame? -- ENTANGLED IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR ENTANGLED: Your wife is not addicted to her antidepressant, and you shouldn't say that to your children. The medication was prescribed for her by a well-meaning physician who obviously didn't explain that there are alternative drugs with fewer side effects.

Your wife needs to consult a psychopharmacologist, a doctor with expertise in brain chemistry. Before moving out, please offer her the option of talking to one. Her doctor or insurance company should be able to give a referral. Or, your wife may be able to find someone who can guide her by contacting a university with a medical school. I am hoping she will, because it could change both of your lives for the better.

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I moved to a new neighborhood right before COVID hit. One of our neighbors is frequently out inspecting our lawn and has even trespassed through our gate into our back yard to offer his "reminder" about lawn maintenance.

We mow our yard every few weeks because the grass doesn't grow terribly fast. We don't feel comfortable going out to buy a better lawn mower until things improve in our state. We also both work with people who are affected by the pandemic so, frankly, we have bigger concerns. How do we handle this diplomatically? -- GRASS ISN'T GREENER

DEAR GRASS: "Diplomatically" tell your neighbor you are maintaining your lawn as best you can, and from now on, you want him to stay off your property and in his own yard. Said with a smile, the message may be more easily accepted. If it isn't, please understand that being direct is the only way to get through to this nosy, presumptuous person.

Add your comments to the discussion.

Read more in: Covid 19 | Friends & Neighbors

How to Share Good Luck Without Bragging

September 13, 2020 - Letter 3 of 3

DEAR ABBY: How can I let someone know about my good fortune without appearing to be bragging? The intent is to hopefully form a business alliance, but I do not want to be misconstrued, misinterpreted or perceived as a braggart. -- GOOD FORTUNE IN THE WEST

DEAR GOOD FORTUNE: Preface your announcement by explaining why you are sharing the news. Example: "John, I have some important news. I'm sharing it because it may present an opportunity for you. I just won $1 million in the lottery, and I'm thinking of starting a new business. Are you interested?" Approach this way and you will come across as generous, not braggadocious.