Dear Abby: When I travel, friend checking my home also snoops through my things

It’s clear from the rearranged property that the visitor is invading privacy and not just picking up mail and watering plants.

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DEAR ABBY: A close friend takes care of my home when I travel several times a year. It involves picking up my mail, watering my indoor and outside plants and checking through the house for anything that might need attention in my absence. I return the favor for her each time she’s out of town. I don’t have anyone else near where I live who can do this for me.

The problem is, when she’s here, she snoops through my things. I know because I keep things in a certain order (I’m neat and organized), and it’s very noticeable when my belongings have been rearranged. It bothers me because it’s an invasion of my privacy and just plain wrong. I would never think of doing this in her home. I have no desire to see her personal items.

Over the years of our friendship, this person has become increasingly possessive and clingy to the point that it’s uncomfortable. I have overlooked it to avoid hurting her feelings. How do I handle this? Do I continue to lock up confidential paperwork and leave everything else for her to snoop through? If I tell her I’m aware of what she’s been doing, I’m afraid she will refuse to help me out any longer. — TRAVELER IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR TRAVELER: There are workarounds for your travel schedule. You could have the post office hold your mail until you return. Living in Connecticut, your outdoor plants are likely dormant in the winter. Inquire at your local nursery about wicking devices to ensure your indoor plants are sufficiently watered.

Because this “friend” can’t resist pawing through your personal things, ask for your key back if she has one (or change the locks on your doors) and tell her kindly that her help is no longer needed. It goes without saying that any financial records should have been under lock and key to prevent prying eyes as soon as you realized they were askew. Please consider it, and when you do, reconsider the friendship.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been going to an excellent hairstylist for a year and a half. The problem is she doesn’t want me to have color on my hair. She wants me to let my hair go gray. I detest the idea. She keeps insisting it is “so pretty,” and she won’t let it go. During my last visit, she became almost combative about it. She said she had expected me to stop asking for color by now.

She colors her hair a beautiful shade of red. When I asked her about it, she said that “she had the right because she was born with that color.” It is very hard to get a hairstylist who knows how to cut my hair. Why do you think this has become such an obsession with her, and what should I do? — HATES THE GRAY

DEAR HATES: What you should do is TAKE CONTROL. It is a hairstylist’s or cosmetologist’s job to give the clients what they want, if it’s possible. Tell that nervy woman you do not want her to raise the subject of letting your hair go gray again because, if she does, she will lose you as a client. And then follow through.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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