Annie's Mailbox for Feb. 5, 2011: How do I handle an unsanitary guest?

Dear Annie: We live in a community made up mostly of retired couples who rotate having dinner get-togethers. One of the men in our group seems unable to keep his hands out of the ice bucket. His usual routine is to remove the ice tongs, stir the ice around with his hand and then lift some into his wife's glass and his own.

We've told him that this is unsanitary, but it seems to go over his head. When filling my glass after him, I will often go to the refrigerator to get ice, and he always says, "There's still ice in the bucket."

His latest procedure is to announce to the whole room that he washed his hands before coming over. Then he dives into the ice bucket. Are we expecting too much? Two ice buckets, one for him and one for everyone else?

— Phil from Philly

Dear Phil: That is one solution. The other is to ask him why he doesn't use the tongs. Some people find them difficult to grasp. Your friend may have some arthritis and not want you to know. Try putting a serving spoon in the bucket and see if it makes a difference. The hosts could also bring out the ice bucket and fill everyone's glass at the beginning of the dinner, precluding the need for your friend to stick his hands in it.

Dear Annie: Two months ago, a dear friend died. He had named me as his emergency contact and had given me a copy of his living will. I knew he had two children, but they did not have a close relationship, and I had only a vague idea of their first names and where I thought they resided.

After his death, I did everything I could think of to find them. So did the hospital and funeral home. A search of my friend's possessions turned up no information. The funeral director tried the sheriff's office and the State Patrol. We all searched the Internet and came up with nothing.

Two days ago, I received an irate phone call from his daughter, who claimed she recently found out about her father's death via the Internet. She told me it was my responsibility to try to get in touch with her and accused me of having no morals.

I was absolutely stunned and hurt by her accusations. I explained that everything possible had been done to locate her, and that I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. I later learned that she called the funeral home and my friend's apartment manager, blaming them, as well.

My friends tell me she probably feels guilty for not keeping in contact with her father and this is why she is lashing out. They say I shouldn't blame myself, but I am heartsick at the thought that perhaps I could have done more in this situation. What do you think?

— Sad Friend

Dear Sad: We think your friends are right. You did nothing wrong, and the girl undoubtedly feels guilty. It's easier for her to blame others than recognize that her father didn't care if she knew about his death. Your job was to attempt to find the children, and you fulfilled your duty honorably. Our condolences on your loss.

Dear Annie: This is in response to "Disappointed Church Member," whose pastor wouldn't pray for her husband because he attends a different church.

I am Jewish, and at my synagogue, we say a Hebrew prayer for healing at each service. Before the prayer, a list of those who are ill is read aloud, followed by the question, "Does anyone have any other names?" It makes me proud of my faith to hear the names of both Jews and Christians. "Disappointed" should tell her pastor that this is a common practice, not only among different churches but also across different faiths.

— Southern Jew

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