DEAR ABBY: I was recently in the bakery section of our neighborhood grocery store. A woman came rushing in carrying a cake that had been at least three-fourths eaten and made a scene, saying the cake was terrible and demanding that she be given a new one. To stop the scene, the store manager gave her a new one, even though she had managed to eat most of the “terrible” cake.
The next night, my husband and I went to dinner at a nice steak house. The couple sitting next to us ate almost their entire dinner before complaining to the manager that the steaks were awful and demanding their meals for free.
Has this become acceptable? If something is wrong with the food, shouldn’t management be told after the first bite? It looks to me like these people are looking for a free ride. — OFFENDED IN KANSAS
DEAR OFFENDED: It certainly appears that way. The most effective way to demonstrate that an item of food is inedible is to not eat it. In situations like this, the restaurant manager will sometimes offer as an accommodation a free dessert rather than write off the entire meal.
As to what happened at the grocery, if the complainer was a good customer, then what the manager did was a wise public relations gesture.
DEAR ABBY: I am 74, and my wife is 71. We are lonely. All of our friends have died, and we have no relatives in this state. We both have health issues that keep us mostly housebound. That leaves out volunteering and sports, and the high cost of gas is a factor.
We live in our own home and want to continue living here. Our home is in a development consisting of busy families involved in their own lives, or too young to bother with a couple of older people. We tried church, only to find that everyone there is as involved in their own lives as our neighbors are.
I fear the thought of one of us dying and leaving the other to possibly die alone in our house, not to be missed or discovered until much later. How can we have friends like we used to have, and not shallow acquaintances? — FRIGHTENED OF THE FUTURE IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR FRIGHTENED: If there are senior citizen centers in your community, I recommend you contact them. That way you can meet new people and form relationships with contemporaries. Also, these centers usually have geriatric specialists or social workers on staff with whom you can discuss your concerns.
That said, it’s important to remember that the kind of friendships you and your wife used to have take time to develop; they don’t happen overnight. Another thought: You say most of your neighbors are busy with their children. Perhaps you could reach out and offer to baby-sit for some of them in your home, if the parents would like a night off. I’ll bet some of them will take you up on it.
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