DEAR ABBY: I work in a call center with 35 other workers. Recently our supervisor hired a woman who is mentally ill. We acknowledge that she has a right to work and, for the most part, she appears to be capable.
The problem is she hears "voices" speaking to her and often responds to them. Other times she "hears" co-workers seated behind her plotting to kill her, which, of course, is not true. She disrupts those around her by constantly asking if they can hear what others are saying about her and what she should do about it.
We have spoken to our supervisor about our concerns. His answer is, "Just be quiet and it will be OK." We don't dislike her — in fact, we're sympathetic — but we resent the position we have been placed in. None of us have been trained to deal with mental health issues. Have you any suggestions on how to handle this?
— UNEASY IN OHIO
DEAR UNEASY: Your supervisor is mistaken. Just being quiet is not the answer because the voices the woman is hearing are in her head. She's acting this way because she has gone off her medication.
This may be a workplace safety issue. Therefore, you and your co-workers must insist that the supervisor take action to ensure that she's not posing a threat to all of you.
DEAR ABBY: Would it be inappropriate or tacky if I had a mother/daughter dance at my daughter's wedding? I know it's a father/daughter tradition, and my husband will obviously have his dance with her, but I'd like to have a shot at it, too.
My reason is purely selfish. Having lost my son two years ago, I will never experience the mother/son dance we were supposed to share at his wedding the year he died. Is this crazy? Horribly inappropriate? Am I being too selfish?
— SENTIMENTAL IN YONKERS
DEAR SENTIMENTAL: Please accept my sympathy for the loss of your son. The mother/daughter dance is something you need to discuss with your daughter and her fiance. What you have in mind is unusual. However, it would be selfish only if you were to pressure your daughter into it over her objections.
DEAR ABBY: I am extremely thin and have struggled for years with eating disorders and an unhealthy relationship with food. It's difficult for me to go out with family and friends because everyone watches me — from what I order to how much I consume — and comments on it. If they decide I haven't eaten enough, they make hurtful comments about my weight.
What I need people to understand is that it is just as hurtful to make fun of someone who is thin by calling him names such as "Stick" or "Bean Pole" as it is to mock a fat person.
Some of us are thin because we are ill, whether it is physically or emotionally. Making fun of us is tasteless, hurtful and unhelpful.
— ROBERT IN N.Y.C.
DEAR ROBERT: I'm glad you wrote, because your letter provides me with the opening to remind my readers that joking about someone's appearance isn't clever or funny. It's cruel. While the target may take those comments with apparent good humor, no one likes to be ridiculed. And frankly, when it happens, it demeans the speaker more than the person at which it is aimed.
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.