DEAR MARY ANN: I have spent some time with a parent at my child's school who is not a citizen of the U.S. She lives here, has worked here and her husband works for a large American company. She takes every opportunity to bash Americans. We are lazy, litigious and eat anything if it's fried. She has said these things in front of me and other parents and teachers. While I do not believe our country is perfect, she is fortunate that our government allows her to live a prosperous life here. I am looking for a good comeback for when she delivers an anti-American sentiment. Somehow "If you don't like it here, move back to your own country" doesn't seem like the right thing to say. Any ideas?
-- DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT
DEAR DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU: The next time she delivers a tirade or even a snippy remark you must tell her that her comments are offensive to you. Be calm and nonconfrontational, but let it be known in a clear voice that her remarks are unacceptable. Make sure she knows being unhappy living away from her home is not an excuse to trash America. Once you speak up, the other parents and teachers will be more than glad to lend support. Do not absorb her insults. Her attitude is reinforced if no one stands up to her rude comments.
DEAR MARY ANN: Now that flu season is here, I am writing to ask for advice on all the germ spreaders. As I am always amazed at how individuals handle taking care of their illnesses, I need a good standard to keep my family healthy. Repeatedly, I run into individuals who are sending their children [over] who have a fever or were sick in the stomach but think they are "OK" to visit, and adults who are coughing and blowing their nose and then wanting to shake your hand. I am not talking about living in a bubble, but common sense seems to have gone out the window.
-- ALL SNEEZED OUT!
DEAR ALL SNEEZED OUT: There are different categories of germ spreaders. The dimwits spend the flu season passing around their germs. They use a common bathroom glass or wipe a child's face with the dish rag. They are puzzled why their family is sick all winter. Then there are the superior attitude parents who feel if their kid has "it," yours may as well have "it," too. These kids show up on play dates and at family gatherings in cute outfits, spewing their germs and wiping their noses on their arms. They should be at home playing in their own rooms.
There is nothing wrong with a bubble when you are protecting your child's health. Call ahead when you know your children will be with other children and ask if everyone is healthy. Depending on the circumstances, be ready to pass on the event if someone is sick.
With the media focus on the seriousness of the flu outbreak, it is perfectly acceptable to nod your head "No" when an adult offers his/her hand for you to shake. The indispensable co-worker hacking in the next cubicle who uses the common office equipment is a huge culprit in the spread of germs. Maybe these colleagues are some of those whose parent didn't put them to bed when they were little and sick.
Need some Steel Advice? Email questions to: email@example.com or write to Mary Ann Wellener, Steel Advice Column, c/o Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Follow Mary Ann on Twitter at @PGSteelAdvice.