Dear Annie: For 10 years, I have had an unwritten business partnership with a woman 26 years my senior. It has mostly worked well, until "Doris" crashed her car into a tree two years ago and had her license suspended. Though no one was hurt, and the tree survived, the car was totaled, and Doris isn't allowed to drive anymore.
Since then, her many friends have provided transportation for her. Her children, two of whom are within an hour's drive, have helped shuttle her around, but not as much as the rest of us. Worse, they don't acknowledge their mother's shortcomings. They don't know what her schedule is like, and how much her schedule impacts those of us who deal with it on a regular basis.
Lately, Doris has become a liability regarding our real estate business. She forgets details about contracts, inspections and disclosure. I end up doing all of the work and still splitting the commission with her. My broker, who is Doris' partner of 40 years, won't intervene. Doris comes to the office four days a week, and I know she needs that structure. How do I keep her from wrecking the business and still preserve her dignity? — Not Her Daughter
Dear Not: We commend you for being kind to Doris, but you aren't running a charity. More importantly, you aren't doing Doris any favors by ignoring her problems. Please talk to her children and her partner directly. Explain that Doris is having difficulty with her memory, and that there may be other medical issues. It may even be that the car crash caused some of this, or vice versa. Suggest that she get a check-up and ask her doctor to test for executive functioning.
Then consider giving Doris a new title so that she still has a job, but is no longer in a position to mess up the contracts. Perhaps you can pay her a salary that is more commensurate with her current contribution to the business.
Dear Annie: We have friends whom we've hosted for dinner at least a half-dozen times in the past few years. But they have never invited us to their home. They once invited us to dine with them at a restaurant, but they did not offer to pay for our meal.
We are reluctant to keep inviting them to dinner at our house, as they make no effort to reciprocate. However, we do enjoy seeing them. What do you suggest? — Feeling Used
Dear Used: Had they treated you at a restaurant, that would have been a fine way to reciprocate, because not everyone is comfortable entertaining in their home. But since they expect you to pay your own way, we suggest you continue with that method. Invite them to join you at a restaurant and split the bill. That way, you can continue to enjoy their company, and no one feels taken advantage of. And it's perfectly OK to periodically entertain them in your home, should you wish to do so, as long as you expect nothing in return.
"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.