DEAR ABBY: I am working temporarily as a receptionist. I get tired of greeting people, but I put on a smile and do it. But it upsets me when I make contact with someone and say, “Good morning,” only to have him or her look away and ignore me.

Would it be OK to say, “Excuse me, I said, ‘Good morning”‘? If not, how do you suggest dealing with rude people like these? I think they should be made aware of their poor manners. But how?

Too many people think it’s all right to grunt inaudibly, or worse, completely ignore the greeting. – TIRED OF SMILING, RICHMOND, VA.

DEAR TIRED OF SMILING: As a receptionist, your job is to offer a smiling, friendly welcome for your employer when clients walk in the door. Of course, the usual and proper response to a courteous and friendly greeting is to return it. People who don’t are rude — or may have serious problems on their minds. However, it is NOT your job to teach them good manners, something their mothers should have done years ago. My advice to you is to keep smiling, and also keep looking for a job you find more fulfilling.

DEAR ABBY: My father died suddenly a short time ago. Ever since, I have been having a hard time trying to sort out my feelings. I have yet to break down and cry, and I don’t know how to say goodbye to a man who meant so much to me and my siblings. He was a great man, my hero, and the only man I have ever wanted to be like.

Abby, I feel guilty about not having broken down and cried yet. I want those feelings to come, but they won’t. Please give me some advice. – GORDON IN IOWA

DEAR GORDON: Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Death is something that affects different people in different ways. Sometimes the survivors feel numb, which may be why it’s hard for you to cry.

Please do not feel guilty about this. Joining a grief support group might help you in getting through this period. However, the last thing you need on top of the pain of your loss right now is to beat yourself up because you haven’t behaved in a fashion you thought you “should” have.

DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law never stops bragging about her kids. And these brats constantly compete to be the center of attention, spitefully putting my children down at family gatherings.

My mother-in-law spends a lot of extra time with these kids because they are involved in athletics. My children are about the same age, but when I’m around my mother-in-law, all she talks about are the niece and nephew. She never asks about my children. I have taken to politely excusing myself when she does this, or when my sister-in-law starts bragging, or her kids start drawing attention to themselves.

Is this the proper way to handle this problem? – READY TO SCREAM IN OLYMPIA, WASH.

DEAR READY TO SCREAM: Your sister-in-law appears to be a natural when it comes to public relations. Surely your own children have some accomplishment that you can pipe up and mention at these family gatherings.

Leaving the room is not the way to handle this. Speaking up and talking about what caring, thoughtful, creative children your children are is something you should have started doing long ago.

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

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