Dear Annie: I work in a small restaurant. One of our regular customers (I’ll call him “John”) has a mental disability. He’s very nice and I know he means well, but he really makes me uncomfortable.
John comes into the restaurant and stays until we close. When we’re not busy, my boss lets him come back into the kitchen. This is when my comfort level really drops. John follows my every move and watches me constantly. If I look up at him, he looks me straight in the eye and gives me a huge smile. He hits on all the girls who work here and has given us his phone number. Sometimes he’ll stare at us and say, “Wow!” It’s really awkward, especially when my boss leaves us alone with him.
I feel bad that I’m weirded out by John, but I can’t help it. Can you please give me some advice? — A.R.
Dear A.R.: It might help if you understand that John’s illness prevents him from controlling some of this behavior. He likes you. He thinks you’re pretty. He’d like you to call him. He doesn’t understand that being so direct is disconcerting. Ask your boss to talk to him and explain that staring and saying “wow” is not an acceptable way to behave around girls. He can help teach John more appropriate ways to conduct himself. John likely poses no danger to you, especially if he remains in the restaurant area, but he should not be in the kitchen for health as well as safety reasons. Tell the boss John’s presence hampers your work and makes you nervous, and that you’d appreciate it if he would stay in the main area of the establishment at all times.
Dear Annie: I don’t mean to sound like a whiner, but at this stage of my life (I am 37 and divorced), every day is overwhelming and I seldom, if ever, enjoy one life-fulfilling day. My job is stressful, but it is very rewarding and provides for my son. I like what I do and don’t want a career change. However, I just don’t seem to be able to live my life to the fullest.
I know that in many respects I am to blame because of my personality. My divorce continues to hurt me. I am very sensitive and too easily stressed, but I can’t help it. Sometimes I even feel the bad vibrations I emit. I get nervous when I talk and sometimes blurt out things I don’t intend to say. I only have a few friends, but rarely socialize because I am not a drinker. Can you help? — El Paso, Texas
Dear El Paso: You are a prime candidate for counseling to help you learn to control your anxiety, balance your oversensitivity and develop some self-confidence. Consider it a gift to your son, who will learn his social skills from you. Ask your doctor to refer you or use the employee assistance program if your job offers one.
Dear Annie: I read the responses to “Craving Intimacy in Indiana” and wish I could tell the husbands of these women what a mistake they’re making.
I lost interest in sexual intimacy with my wife of 32 years. I didn’t have a testosterone problem, I wasn’t depressed and I wasn’t gay. Frankly, my wife’s body changed quite a bit over the course of our marriage and I responded accordingly.
Somewhere along the line, I had an awakening. I realized my wife had been loving, faithful and supportive for our entire marriage. She provided indispensable contributions, which resulted in the successful and happy life we enjoy. Our two adult sons are fine young men, in large part because of their mother.
I asked for my wife’s forgiveness and promised things would be different, and I’ve kept my word. To the husbands of those women who are feeling neglected: Whatever your problem is, fix it! Your wife deserves better. — Thankful I Woke Up in Kansas City, Mo.
Dear Thankful: We know a lot of women are going to clip your letter and put it on their husband’s pillow tonight. Thank you.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 2.19.08