DEAR ABBY: I work 5 1/2 days a week (46 hours) with no benefits. I can't afford to miss a day because, on the rare occasion that I must, I don't get paid.
My wife, "Kelly," misses work frequently because she is "sick," "tired," etc. She is in the same boat as I am — no work, no pay. Kelly knows how tight finances are and how much I hate having to work almost six days with no time off. But she still misses work and treats it like it's no big deal. She says she understands our situation.
I would like to go back to school and get my degree, but I'm afraid to rely on Kelly to pay the bills while I'm in school. I am so frustrated with my wife because of her work ethic that I feel like exploding and screaming at her. How should I handle this situation?
— HARD-WORKING TEXAN
DEAR HARD-WORKING: In the difficult economic environment we're experiencing, many companies are taking a hard look at their expenses and scaling back. Among the ways they are doing this is by laying off employees. Your wife is playing "chicken" with her job. It should not be necessary to scream at her — just remind her what a fix you will both be in if she should become unemployed.
It might be wise for you to postpone furthering your education until the economy — and your finances — are more stable.
DEAR ABBY: I am 13 and in seventh grade. I sit with a group of nice people at lunch, except for one. "Grady" insults us, cries, yells at us for minor things, and has come right out and said he sits with us only because he likes to annoy us. Once, he started crying on purpose so we would feel bad and sit with him.
We have tried moving to a different table, ignoring him and being unpleasant so he wouldn't want to sit with us. Most of us have known Grady all through grade school, and we have had enough of his crying and yelling at us for no reason. We just want our space. Do you have any suggestions on how to get Grady to leave us alone? Most of us have classes with him, so avoiding him is not an option.
— WANTS SOME QUIET TIME
DEAR WANTS: Grady may be immature for his age, or he may have emotional problems. If you haven't already done so, bring his behavior to the attention of a teacher or a counselor at school. You have described a child who has serious difficulty fitting in, but with counseling from an adult he may be able to adopt more appropriate behavior.
DEAR ABBY: My mother passed away 26 years ago. After her funeral, I gave her diamond engagement ring to my daughter, "Emma." Since then Emma has had two husbands and two more diamond rings, plus several others with various gemstones to match outfits. As far as I know, she has never worn my mother's ring.
I would like to spend my last years honoring my mother by wearing her ring. I am now 82. It would, of course, be returned to Emma when I die. Would it be all right to ask for that privilege?
— SENTIMENTAL IN COLUMBIA, S.C.
DEAR SENTIMENTAL: Of course it would be all right to ask. However, bear in mind that when you gave your daughter your mother's ring, it became hers to do with as she wished. Her response to your query will tell you volumes about the daughter you raised.
TO MY JEWISH READERS: Allow me to wish all of you a happy Festival of Lights!
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.