Dear Annie: I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 18 months. The relationship ended for many reasons, but mainly because "Pete" racked up a $1,000 phone bill calling chat lines to meet women for sex. Pete says he never actually met with any of these women, but because of the large number of outgoing and incoming calls, I don't believe him. He now owes me $4,000.
I want Pete out of my life, but I still talk to him in order to get the money he owes me. He promises to pay, but always has some excuse why he can't. I hate talking to him because, for some crazy reason, I still have feelings for him and it hurts too much.
My question is, how long do I give him to pay me back before I take further action? I don't want to take him to small claims court except as a last resort. How do I get my money back and get him out of my life for good? Broke, Broken and Confused
Dear Broke: Is Pete capable of paying you back, or is he financially strapped? Have him sign an IOU so you have something in writing, and then ask him to start paying you an agreed-upon sum every week until the loan is paid off in full. Since you don't want to deal with him directly, ask a friend or relative to handle it. If, after six months, there has been no effort at repayment, it's time to consider legal alternatives.
Dear Annie: Where are salesmen and saleswomen getting their training from today? Is it from the high school hallways or the neighborhood hangout? I am a 51-year-old male veteran and am constantly referred to as man, bud, dude, boss, chief, etc., by salespeople. I would prefer to be called "sir," but even if that's not possible, I certainly do not want to be called "chief."
This kind of sales technique (like waitstaff who refer to my wife and me as "you guys") does not work. After you call me "dude," I have tuned you out. And depending on my mood, I may shut the door in your face. Fed Up with Sales Dudes
Dear Fed Up: Your letter should be compulsory reading for all sales personnel. Most people, and certainly those past a certain age, find the use of such casual monikers highly annoying at the very least. Thanks for weighing in.
Dear Annie: I was extremely offended by "Bill in Memphis," who lost a lot of weight after someone told him he looked heavy. He said he needed the "kick in the butt." I'm glad he finally took steps to trim down, but this does not give him the right to encourage rudeness.
I have battled my weight for 51 years. Because of multiple surgeries, I lost the battle a few years ago. My doctor refuses pills, liposuction, etc., stating I can be healthy and happy as I am. I am on a well-balanced diet, but I'm limited to slow walking, and even that hurts. No bending or lifting allowed.
I am well educated, have a wonderful career and am very independent after a recent divorce. I am comfortable with myself until someone embarrasses me in public. People who know me do not comment on my size. We have other issues to discuss besides my appearance. Bill, and everyone else, should realize that not all weight gain is a result of gluttony.
By the way, I have a friend who is anorexic. She cries and punishes herself by not eating whether comments are positive or negative. She is 63 years old, 5 feet 8 and less than 115 pounds. She leans on me for support. Lael in Louisiana
Dear Lael: We don't think Bill meant to encourage rudeness. We think he appreciated the kick and assumed others would, too. But our mail indicates most people would rather others not comment on their size at all.
XE-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie's Mailbox™, P.O. Box 118190, Chicago, IL 60611.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.