Dear Annie: My husband's half-brother is 59 and working as a custodian. "John" does not drink or smoke and can converse well, but has a learning disability and cannot read. He tried tutors, but made no progress. He did OK while his mother was alive, but she died, and then John's wife died within the same year.
John has four adult children. One has Down syndrome and lives in a group home. One lives three hours away. The other two are nearby, but the youngest also has some difficulties and is childlike in his perception of the world.
John can be stubborn and will not take advice, even when he asks for it. Here is the problem: John and his youngest son both work for a man who pays them minimum wage. He takes out Social Security taxes, but then does not pay the government, which then comes after John to pay his taxes, so he ends up paying twice. When John needed a car to travel to various janitorial jobs, the boss began withholding $200 a month from his paycheck, which he claimed he would save so John could buy a better car. Now we hear that the boss is selling John his own used car for double the book price at 18% interest. John brought the written agreement to show my husband, but he'd already signed it.
I want to report this employer, but John is afraid he will lose his job. He has tried working with a lawyer to get disability, but fails to show up for appointments, partly because he cannot read his mail informing him when to be there. My husband has taken him to various agencies, but John doesn't follow through. What can I do? — Disgusted with the Situation in Iowa
Dear Disgusted: John's employer is taking illegal advantage of him. Please talk to your husband and also to John about contacting Disability Rights Iowa (https://disabilityrightsiowa.org) to report the situation. Someone there can also help John deal with his fear of losing his job, which is part of the reason he doesn't follow through. (For those in other states, contact the National Disability Rights Network at https://ndrn.org.) You may need to enlist the help of his children or even a caregiver to go through his mail, drive him to appointments and make sure he does whatever is necessary to rectify this situation.
Dear Annie: This month I celebrated a milestone birthday. My stepson visited (to see his father) and noticed all of the birthday cards I had laid out on the table. He asked when my birthday was and I told him.
I have been his stepmother for 20 years and have always welcomed him in our home. Every year of our marriage, my grown children have sent my husband a card for his birthday, but I get no acknowledgment from my stepson. I didn't this year, either, even after I told him when it was.
I've mentioned it to my husband in the past, but he says, "Get over it. You are too sensitive." Yet this same son makes a big deal out of his father's birthday — as well he should. Am I wrong to feel disappointed? — Texas
Dear Texas: Instead of complaining to your husband, who doesn't care, you should talk to your stepson. Don't be angry about it. He probably doesn't realize that you'd like a card from him. Simply say how much it would mean to you if he would acknowledge your birthday. We hope he will.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from "Frustrated in Southern California," whose friend only watches kids' movies. Your suggestion is spot on. I only watch Disney films or family friendly shows. No violence, sex or bad language. There is enough of that already. I don't need to voluntarily take it in. It may be an escape, but maybe I need one. — C.
This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. 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.