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Dear Abby: When to talk to relative of rape victim

Dear Abby: What do you say when someone has been raped? I have a friend whose granddaughter was brutally raped and left for dead. I have asked a few questions about how she is doing and receive only cursory answers in response.

I know that this incident has caused great sadness within this family. What do I say? What do I do? I am at a loss for words, and don’t know how to help. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

– Stymied in Arizona

Dear Stymied: You have shown your concern by asking. It should be clear to you that your friend is not comfortable discussing the family tragedy in detail. Now drop the subject, because sometimes being at a loss for words is a good thing. When your friend is comfortable talking about it, he/she will do it without prompting.

Miffed at how teachers dress

Dear Abby: I recently read to the students at a local grammar school. I read to kindergarteners, second- and fourth-graders. The children were great, quiet and attentive. They asked insightful questions about the stories.

But the teachers were a disappointment. They dressed the way I dress when I work in the yard – jeans and T-shirts. What an unprofessional image they presented to these youngsters!

– Sad to See in Nevada

Dear Sad: I, too, remember when teachers dressed more formally in the classroom. But that was then, and this is now. On the bright side, one would hope that teachers gain the respect and affection of their students less on how they look and more on the love of learning they are able to instill.

Dealing with a germaphobe

Dear Abby: I recently took two days off from work to stay home with a cold. When I returned, a co-worker commented on how I might be contagious. During our lunch break, she said she didn’t want me to sit next to her “because she didn’t want to get sick.” I told her there were plenty of other seats if she preferred to sit elsewhere, and sarcastically thanked her for making me feel “welcomed.” She keeps bringing it up and pushing everyone to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their work areas. I’m offended. A couple of co-workers are now sick with similar symptoms. Is she rude? Or am I oversensitive?

– Offended in the Midwest

Dear Offended: Your co-worker isn’t rude; she’s a germaphobe – with good reason. If everyone was careful to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their workstations and shared surfaces – doorknobs, light switches, lunchroom equipment – there would be fewer people taking sick days. In a case such as this, stop being defensive. The best response is no response at all.