Posted: Monday, January 4, 2010 8:01 pm
Dear Annie: My wife decided to offer our young teenage daughter a trip to Japan because a friend of ours moved there last summer. Our daughter would stay for a week with this friend. My wife agrees with me that the decision was impulsive, but we both know it offers an opportunity for our daughter to enjoy a great experience. This friend is only in her 20s, but both she and my daughter are very responsible individuals.
My concern is with the potential dangers of a young girl traveling alone internationally. I have done some research and understand we can have an airline representative escort her through customs to meet our friend. But this is where my trust begins to waver. There’s too much of the unknown to make me comfortable. How would the airlines handle the trip when there are plane changes? If something were to happen, whom could my daughter turn to who is trustworthy?
I realize I may be a little overprotective, but in this case there are good reasons. Maybe I’ve read too much about human trafficking, but it worries me that someone may spot my daughter as a vulnerable target. What is the real risk? How can we best ensure her safety? — Protective Father
Dear Dad: Call the airline about their policy regarding unaccompanied minors who must change planes. Find out whether they provide an escort, and if not, she should ask a flight attendant before leaving the aircraft which gate she is headed for and how to get there. Tell her to watch her luggage when she gets on and off the plane, and to be alert when using airport bathrooms. If she has to wait at the airport, she should stand near other women, preferably those with young families. Make sure she has a cell phone that will work in Japan and is programmed with your friend’s number and local emergency numbers. Most importantly, she should carry herself with confidence and pay close attention to her surroundings. Chances are your daughter will be fine, but it never hurts to take precautions.
Dear Annie: Three years ago, my husband and I met “Elaine.” She is now 78 years old and is starting to irritate me by making racist remarks against foreigners. For some reason she hates these people, although I’m sure she doesn’t know any of them personally. She also doesn’t seem to care who is listening.
At times Elaine is great to be with and quite funny when she’s not insulting people. I’d like to keep her as a friend, but I want her to stop making bigoted remarks. Any suggestions? — Canada
Dear Canada: Has Elaine always expressed these opinions aloud, or is this a recent development? Lack of inhibition can be a sign of early dementia, and sudden changes in mental capacity can be symptomatic of a small stroke. If she’s simply a bigot, you need to let her know you don’t want to hear these comments. Bigots and racists think they can get away with spreading their vile opinions because so few people will stand up to them. Don’t be one of them.
Dear Annie: Please tell “J.D. in Connecticut” she is fortunate to have received condolences after her sister’s death, even via e-mail.
My 37-year-old son died suddenly six months ago, and some of my family members have not sent condolences in any form. These are people who were brought up with monogrammed stationery specifically for these purposes. I did, however, receive a touching handwritten note from my husband’s new chiropractor, who had never met me. That’s class.
People claim they don’t know what to say. I tell them the worst thing is to say nothing. That gives the message that your loss doesn’t matter. For relatives to do that is inexcusable. — Patty in North Carolina
Dear Patty: Our deepest condolences. Please know your letter will educate others.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.4.10