DEAR ABBY: My wife and I live in a beachfront condo complex with a population of mostly retired people who are friendly and active. Last year a divorced woman moved in and was welcomed into the community. Although she has been invited to social gatherings and outings, she rarely attends. My wife and I went out of our way to try to make her feel comfortable. We had her to dinner in our home and asked her to join us for several outings. I also volunteered to do chores in her home, always accompanied by my wife.
Recently she confided to us that she has never really had any friends. She complains that she’s not included and has criticized most of the residents at various times. Some of the things she says are cruel and unwarranted, including about people she doesn’t know. She seems to enjoy trying to turn people against each other.
At a recent event, when a couple we know well entered the room, the wife came up to me and kissed me on the cheek. She later did the same to my wife, who was standing across the room. That’s how she greets most people she knows. Later our “friend” told my wife I had been flirting with the other woman and she had seen me kiss her. A week later I learned she had told the woman’s husband I flirted with his wife, which was untrue.
How do we react to this new neighbor? Should we confront her, distance ourselves from her, and/or warn others about her critical behavior and lying? — MIFFED IN MISSISSIPPI
DEAR MIFFED: The answer to all three of your questions is yes. And when you and your wife talk to your friends about this toxic woman, be sure to caution them that if they ever hear anything negative about anyone else from her, to always check with the person she is talking about to determine if what she said is true.
DEAR ABBY: I have lost a large portion of my vision, and will be trained soon in the use of a white cane. Although I still have some vision left, I often bump into things when I’m in unfamiliar surroundings. I’m sure the cane will be helpful and make me feel more secure.
There is something I think is important for your readers to know. When they see someone with a white cane, it does not necessarily mean the person is totally blind. I have read of instances where people were using their cane, but perhaps sat down at a bus stop and read a text on their cellphone. These people were accused of being fakes.
I am still able to read a newspaper, but I can no longer drive. I’m unable to see at night, and the loss of my peripheral vision has become dangerous for me. Please let your readers know that a person with a white cane may still be able to see to some degree, but they do need the cane for their own safety. — SAFETY FIRST
DEAR SAFETY FIRST: Thank you for your letter. When I looked online for more information about white canes, I learned there are many different kinds. They include the “symbol cane,” which is held to let others know the person is blind or vision-challenged. It’s carried when out in public to remind others to be careful about possibly colliding with him or her.
Other canes are the “guide cane” and the “long cane,” which are used to detect objects in front of the sightless person, to prevent tripping on curbs, steps or other objects. (There are also red-and-white banded canes, which indicate the person carrying one has a hearing impairment as well as sight loss.)
Readers, I know it’s easy to be cynical, but if you see someone with a white cane, please do not accuse the person of faking, because he or she is contending with enough challenges already.
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.
Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)