Best Behavior: Return Problems

Slippery Sipper

I work the counter at a liquor store. A customer comes in at least twice a week and drives everybody crazy. She talks and talks, but everybody else heads to the floor to stock the shelves. That leaves me with her. She buys a bottle of wine, maybe, and goes on and on about “people” in town. I guess I should feel sorry for her, but I don’t. She’s bad for business. I’m pretty sure she’s half drunk every time she comes in. I’m not the boss, so I don’t know how to get rid of her. What can I do? —Anonymous, Sylvan Park

Paying attention, sometimes, leads to problems. The lady comes in, all alone, and there you are waiting, with nice manners written all over you. Everybody seems to be onto her game. So you’re trapped at the front counter, her one-cashier captive audience.

You obviously do not have to engage the woman in conversation to get her started. All she needs is a listening ear, even if it’s not listening. You can do your best to give her the bum’s rush, but it may not help.

Let’s not jump to conclusions. Yes, she may have broken into a bottle before she walked through the door, but there’s also the possibility that something else is going on, every bit as serious as a tendency to tipple.

You’re not the boss, but you have one. He can make the decision what to do with his steadily unsteady customer. If she gets behind the wheel, he won’t want the responsibility for what happens on the streets.

But whether the lady’s a little loony — or perhaps a little lushy — you have the right to ask the rest of the crew for help. Showtime, after all, needs to be shared.

School Break

Our son came home last week after his first month in college. He has a tattoo on his neck, a thing we never, ever permitted before. His father is blaming his school, and the two of them got into a shouting match. Although I don’t agree with my son, I was caught in the middle. The whole weekend was horrible, and there was only so much peacemaking I could do. I guess I’m glad that he’s gone back to school now, but I’m caught with his father. I don’t know what to say. I need help. —Anonymous, Brentwood

The boy worked in a hurry, but the tattoo is there to stay. So is your husband, who’s threatening an action as quick and ill-considered as his son.

Blaming the school is pointless, since getting inked up may have been an act of rebellion simmering under his skin for years. There’s little point in trying to play peacemaker. Don’t take sides, but sit your son down and tell him he’s made a rash move — maybe in more ways than one. There may come a time when he regrets the tattoo, but it’s not here now.

You don’t have to claim to love the artwork on his neck. I bet it doesn’t say “Mama” or “Daddy.”

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