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This Month:

Dear Madrone,

The man who does the gardening is not a bad man, don't get me wrong. He comes on time, most of the time, and does a reasonable job, most reasonably. But he charges me an arm and an leg, and doesn't hide the fact that it's the most he gets from anyone. I don't know why I should put up with this, so when I very nicely pointed this out, he, can you believe this, raised his voice. So I says to him, who do you think I am? Your daughter? Which I am not, so he had to apologize. Which he did, but he still charges me extra. What should I do?

Steamed, Frog Hollow

Dear Steamed,

About what? His manners or his fees? Or Both? No matter, same advice either way. If you don't like his price or the way he talks, then you should take your business elsewhere. That's the only thing that makes any sense. Oh, I can hear it now, you like the guy's work, you know his routine, there is no one else who comes to the neighborhood, whatever. Then you're stuck. He has what you want. You pay for it by putting up with what aggravates you. So why are you writing me? Either you are a doormat or you have savvy. No in between.

God bless, Donna

Readers A note about doormats.

Don't get me wrong, all things being equal, it is better to have savvy than to let people walk all over you. But sometimes and this is why life is good,(and by good I mean confusing enough so that you need me) it's savvy to be a doormat.. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid the muddy footprints all over your self respect. But when, Madrone, but when? Sadly there is no hard fast rule, but by sadly, I mean gladly, because if there were,I would get less mail. .But there is little worry of that, even if there were rules you couldn't break, you'd still be asking me questions, most people don't recognize reality unless it takes out a two by four, whacks them over the head, then buys them a Cadillac because it's sorry.

And even then.

Here are some cases where it might be better to lie down than stand up:

  • They have what you want. (the only cure for this is changing what you want)
  • You have what they want, but you want them to owe you, so you give.

Here's the trickiest— they have what someone you love wants.

For example. My mother's brother's cousin Rennie's best friend. Lavalle, was a complete idiot. No question. But my Rennie loved Lavalle like a brother because when they were little, Lavalle took one on the jaw for him from a neighborhood thug. Rennie ended up with a bone to pick with Lavalle's wife over some shirts she messed up at the family dry cleaning business. But he decided to let it go because she would have given Lavalle a hard time about their weekly poker game, which Rennie knew Lavalle needed to get through life with a very unpliable spouse. A rare case of friendship before shirts.



Pamela Bongiorno Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles. She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.

Rules of Family Archive

Donna's Blog

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