Dear Annie: I was talking to a co-worker the other day, and he was telling me in a joking manner that where I come from, people eat reindeer. I responded to him, while smiling, saying, “You guys eat dogs!” (He is Korean.)
He got really upset and called me many vulgarities and left. I approached him and apologized, but he told me to stay away. I apologized again the next day, but he wouldn’t listen. This is causing bad feelings since we work in the same office, but I feel I have done enough and am not willing to go any further. Any suggestions? — Fight to the Finnish
Dear Finnish: Your co-worker thought your comment was more insulting than funny, although he should have been willing to take what he dished out. Try one more time. Tell him you didn’t realize your comment was so insensitive and you are sorry. You also can ask someone else in the office to talk to him on your behalf and explain that you did not intend to hurt his feelings. If he still won’t speak to you, there’s nothing more you can do.
Dear Annie: I am a 60-year-old widow with a 30-year-old son who is mildly autistic but lives in his own apartment and has a job. “Dean” has no friends but seems to be happy with his computer and some other hobbies. He is often at my house and eats supper here many times during the week.
I sometimes wonder if, by tolerating this situation, I am keeping Dean from making friends. When he was at school, he was often shunned and bullied because of his eccentricities. He is a pleasure to be around, very intelligent, and I don’t mind his being here.
Should I suggest he come less frequently? How do I do this without seeming to reject him? I worry about when I am no longer around. — Mother in Edmonton
Dear Mother: Please don’t suggest he come less frequently. Your home is a safe and loving environment. We spoke to staff at the Autism Society of America (autism-society.org) and this is what they said:
As much as we would like to be here forever to care for our children, we have to help them grow and expand their support networks. Suggest having dinner together at his house. He could even build his skills by cooking for you. However, Dean needs to find safe environments beyond your home. You can help him now by creating opportunities to build social skills and become less dependent on you, yet also supporting him when things don’t work out. Joining groups like MAAP Services for Autism and Asperger Syndrome (maapservices.org) and GRASP, the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (grasp.org), can be a great way for him to meet people and not have to fear being shunned. There also are online groups and community-based clubs that provide opportunities to interact with like-minded people. Provide concrete information about the good points of friendships to Dean and about how to meet people and strike up a conversation, and reassure him about why people would like to have him as a friend. As you said, he’s a pleasure!
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “This Violet Is Blue,” who has been married to her husband for 20 years, but he still plans to be buried next to his first wife. It’s a very interesting problem that is becoming more common.
As a former provider of funeral services, I encountered this situation and came up with a viable solution. When her husband dies, he can be cremated, and half the ashes can be buried with his first wife, and the other half with “Violet.” It’s a good compromise, and everyone can be satisfied with the results. — Kelowna, B.C.
Dear Kelowna: Many thanks for one possible resolution to a tricky problem.
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 on 12.04.07