DEAR ABBY: I work in a medical office and would like your help in asking patients when entering the clinic to please respect the privacy of the people ahead of them and not peer over their shoulders when they sign in. It is not only rude, but also a violation of HIPAA privacy laws.

Another problem – and forgive me, because this is gross – is that when we tell a patient the amount of the co-pay, she will reach into her bra and pull out WET cash and expect us to take it from her! It literally makes me sick, and I’d rather not touch it, but at the same time, customer service is No. 1 in our clinic and with me, too, so I take it and then spend the rest of the day wanting to vomit. – SICK IN THE DR.’S OFFICE

You are right; the behavior you have described is rude. The same thing happens when customers swipe their debit/credit cards in the checkout line at the supermarket, and you should handle it the way many checkers do. Say to the patient who is second in line, “Please stand back.” You don’t have to be nasty, just firm.

As to those women (I assume it’s women) who treat their brassiere cups like breast pockets, you have two choices. Either slip on a pair of latex gloves when you take the cash, or whip out the hand sanitizer afterward. That’s what it’s for.

DEAR ABBY: I need help for my friend “Edie.” Her mother died of cancer two years ago, and she’s still grieving. She has her mother’s obituary taped on the wall in front of her computer at work. Every conversation with her includes references to how her mom acted, cooked, worked, etc.

Edie’s father has a new female friend, which upsets Edie to no end. Her 4-year-old called the new girlfriend “Maw-Maw” and Edie scolded him saying, “That is NOT your Maw-Maw, and she’ll never BE your Maw-Maw!”

Abby, I don’t think the little boy even remembers his grandma. He was only 2 when she died. Edie wears her mother’s clothes and still hasn’t cleaned out her mom’s home. Edie’s dad is scared for fear of upsetting her.

What, as a friend, can I do to help her? – STANDING BY IN KENTUCKY

While grieving is an individual process, it appears that your friend has become stuck. It would be a kindness to tell her that you know she is hurting, and to suggest that she consult a grief counselor or psychotherapist to help lessen her obvious pain.

DEAR ABBY: I was invited to an elegant wedding, and by the time dinner was served, I was stuffed because I pigged out on the hors d’oeuvres. At the end of dinner, I asked for a doggy bag to take home my huge untouched filet mignon. Was this a faux pas? – HATES TO BE WASTEFUL, WABAN, MASS.

Absolutely not. It’s done all the time, and you have done nothing for which you have to apologize. However, let this be a lesson to you. Next time, save room for the main course.

DEAR ABBY: I want to visit my son, whom I have not seen or heard from in three years. Even though I have phoned and have written to him, I have gotten no reply. He was angry at me the last time we spoke. Should I make a surprise visit when I’m in his city? – MOM IN THE SOUTHWEST

Unless you’re willing to be the one getting the surprise, I don’t recommend it.

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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