DEAR AMY: My co-worker's wife has Stage 4 cancer, and he has put out the word that he needs money for the mounting medical bills. He also said he was on the verge of losing his home.
We were told that a bank account had been set up and that people could contribute.
Here in the office, we all thought that was a great idea, and we pooled our money to deposit a large sum into the account.
Lately every time we talk to this co-worker, he talks about how he just bought new furniture and new carpet and is now taking the family to Disneyland with the funds.
Many of the co-workers are starting to feel used.
We know that the cancer story is true, but with all the friends, family and co-workers contributing, what's next on his shopping list?
What should we do, explain to him that we feel the funds are being abused or just let it go?
-- Insufficient Funds
DEAR INSUFFICIENT: Your colleague might be under the mistaken impression that he needs to show his gratitude by parading -- or inflating -- his purchases.
Your charity should extend so far as to not leap to unkind conclusions.
However, whoever is closest to him at the office should speak with him. It is quite obvious that he needs financial mentoring. It is possible that he was in financial straits before his wife's illness.
If he is behind in his mortgage, it would be best if he turned over his most urgent bill to an administrator (someone at the bank, perhaps) who could make sure he doesn't lose his home.
DEAR AMY: I'm a stay-at-home mom with two daughters, ages 2 1/2 and 4. I'm having issues with one of the moms in my youngest daughter's preschool class.
Our daughters are great friends, but the mother doesn't seem to want to do a play date.
To make matters worse, she is the only mom that I have found who has two daughters the exact same ages as my two daughters.
This summer, all of our daughters will be going to the same camps. We work out at the same health club.
You would think that with all of this in common, we would be a perfect fit for each other and a great support system, but she will barely give me the time of day.
If I call her, she doesn't call back. If I e-mail her, she doesn't respond, even on Facebook.
It breaks my heart when my daughter asks me to call this mom for a play date. She seems about to cry, and I sit back and cry a little too. I confronted the mother on one occasion. I said I'm just trying to be a good mother to my daughters and help them socialize.
She responded kindly, but it didn't last long.
What should I do?
-- Desperate Mother
DEAR DESPERATE: The first thing you should do is dial this down about five notches.
You say you want to help your daughters learn to socialize, and yet you are modeling poor social skills.
Part of your job as a parent is not only to usher your kids into the good times, but also to show them how to roll past the inevitable punches, hurt feelings and outright snubs.
If you feel the stakes are so high over a preschooler's play date that a "no" breaks your heart, then what will happen if your teenage daughter asks a boy to the homecoming dance and he says no?
This other mom may have problems of her own. She may be unkind, undeserving or simply not into you. So leave her alone already. Be polite, stop coming on so strong, and give the whole situation time and space.
DEAR AMY: I'm responding to "Office Cinderella," a woman whose co-worker took an unflattering photo of her and saved it on her cell phone. She also showed the photo to co-workers. Your advice was to laugh it off.
Believe me, at the company where I work, human resources would be having a very stern conversation with this co-worker.
She's creating a hostile work environment for this person and demeaning her to fellow employees. It should not be tolerated.
DEAR CONCERNED: Many readers agreed with you that this is a matter HR should handle. Thank you.
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