June 8, 2006


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Pinings: Dogged by guilt
by Sherry Hughes sah103@hotmail.com

Dear Sherry:
I am in the process of learning how to have good social skills.  I am in college and live close to the school.  Just so you know, I am an adult student and I really want to meet new friends. I went out with some classmates at the end of the spring semester and one of them has a girlfriend that lives next to me. So two weeks ago I pull up and he is in the parking lot with his girlfriend. We started a conversation which led to me going to her apartment several times. He also was there. One night I was in a depression and while talking with them they asked me what was wrong and I started telling them some of health concerns. They began to just start firing questions and statements at me, both of them (they are African Americans, which doesn’t bother me but they may think different from me) and they became very aggressive and opinionated in a rather demeaning way.  I left after basically telling them not to treat me this way that it wasn’t right, but after things calmed down a bit, I thanked them and I left.  

Now here’s my dilemma: I have a little dachshund that was born with a very weak immune system. She still suffers with arthritis and loves to sun bathe for her condition (Like people who move to Arizona for the weather if they have arthritis). I had Bella (my dog) in the car yesterday where she sun bathes up by the back windshield where the sun just radiates on her real good. I live in a colder region so it is too cold for her to sunbathe in the backyard. These two come to my front window telling me that I shouldn’t have my dog in the car like that (they were making assumptions that she could suffocate etc, as if I am not watching her and caring for her!) 

Anyway, they are telling me all this stuff so, as I mentioned I am just learning social skills, I didn’t know what to do. I knew that I did not want to have to ANSWER to these two people. Knowing also that if I let that happen it will be going on for the rest of my life! So, I just said “hey, shut up, (sort of jokingly) I will take you both and beat the (....) out of you both and I just said this and laughed and the man said to the women “Come on Tara let’s go ... I am not going to have anyone talk to me like this.”

I thought he was clear that I was joking with them ... but I think he took offense. Sherry I don’t want these two in my business or calling some dog agency or taking revenge —what do I do? 


Dear Vicki,
As much as I appreciate that you are trying to learn social skills, you are pretty rusty right now. You should really have a talk with these folks. They might have come on too strong, but most people will listen if you are gentle and kind when you tell them how they made you feel. Explain to them, just like you did to me, what you do with your dog and why. This doesn’t mean you have to become best friends, but just explain to them that their comments put you on the defensive and you reacted badly. I also need to ask: Is your dog locked in the car with the windows up? Because that will endanger your dog. I’d also keep some cool water nearby if you are going to leave the dog out there for any length of time. And the lesson you might take away from the earlier issue, about your health concerns, is to wait until you know you can trust someone before you reveal the intimate details of your life.

Even if we don’t like our neighbors, it’s best to be on talking terms with them. You never know when you might need them. And in terms of social skills, you’ve made a couple of blunders. But we only learn how to do this, like many things in life, after lots of practice – and mistakes.

Sherry Hughes welcomes letters from readers at sah103@hotmail.com

Comments? Thoughts? Discuss this article and more at hippoflea.com

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