Dear Annie: My supervisor rarely states his desires clearly. But if I take the initiative or ask him to clarify, he makes me feel like an idiot.
He is condescending and highly critical of most people. He also is a nonstop gossip. He has portrayed me to others as racist, womanizing and incompetent.
He has control over my payable time and my vacation requests. He has the ear of management and lives in the same neighborhood as many of my co-workers.
I fear that bringing any of this up for discussion will create a level of retaliation far worse than the existing reality. Any suggestions? — Kansas
Dear Kansas: First, examine your own behavior to see whether there is cause for such rumors to take hold, and if so, correct it.
Still, it is no excuse for your supervisor to spread gossip. He also seems ineffectual as a leader, because he does not make his wishes clear and stifles attempts by employees to clarify.
Normally, these would be issues to document and then discuss with human resources or the supervisor’s boss.
However, if you worry that doing so will create more problems, you have two choices: Either conduct yourself in a way that is beyond reproach and do your best to put up with it, or start looking for another job.
Dear Annie: I love your column and hope you can clear something up for me.
What is the correct thing to do when sending a sympathy card?
It seems that most death notices these days suggest donating to a favorite charity “in lieu of flowers.” But is it OK just to send a card? Should money always be enclosed?
My friend says yes, but I had never heard of this. Is this a religious custom or popular in certain parts of our country? I get a different answer every time I ask someone. — Casper, Wyo.
Dear Casper: A sympathy card is always appropriate, and no, you do not have to enclose money.
If the bereaved is struggling financially, it is a kindness to send something to help defray funeral costs, but it is absolutely not mandatory.
A donation to a charitable organization is a suggestion and also not required. The point is to express your condolences. Anything beyond that is up to you.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “Doing It Myself,” who is perplexed about how best to care for her aging mother who has mild dementia.
It is not always beneficial to keep the parent in his or her own home.
My 86-year-old mother quickly became unstable once she was widowed. She totaled the car in a bad accident, started berating neighborhood children for being loud and lied to a police officer about a friend who came to visit. She also gave lots of money to every charity that asked.
All of those people who offered help at Dad’s funeral faded away. Mom was alone and unable to voice her fear. She thought she was supposed to stay in the house she built with my father.
I nearly lost my mind, my business and my health trying to keep her at home.
Over the objections of my out-of-state siblings, I moved her into a continuing care facility that provides for rehab, skilled care and assisted living.
She went kicking and screaming, but eventually apologized for making it so hard on me. She has tons of new friends and is happy and active. Everyone who works there loves her, and she knows it.
Two weeks after she moved in, she said, “I wish I’d moved here three years ago.” I do, too. — W.
Dear W.: A lot of folks have found that the company and care at a retirement or assisted-living facility is quite enjoyable once they have made the adjustment.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.