Dear Annie: We know an elderly couple who are on a very low income, and we have helped them a lot. Not long ago, their car needed to be fixed, and my husband paid the garage and gave the mechanic a tip. We did this not expecting repayment. Well, the woman has gotten angry at us for not letting her repay us, which she cannot afford to do. It honestly wasn't that much. No amount of polite refusal helps. Now she pretty much doesn't talk to us. Were we wrong? — Able to Be Generous Paying It Forward
Dear Able to Be Generous: For some people, pride is more important than money. You should allow this lion and lioness to repay you and not try to push your own wishes onto them. It was very kind of you to pay for their car; now be kind to them and respect their wishes. Just tell her that you really value her friendship.
There are many charities that help hundreds of thousands of people. Maybe you could volunteer your resources to one that you care about.
Dear Readers: I received a lot of mail in response to "Over It," who was tired of his girlfriend's brother tagging along. Here are a few letters that stuck out.
Dear Annie: People with Asperger's syndrome often have difficulty with social cues and social interactions. I know because my 23-year-old son has Asperger's. He is currently in graduate school and is doing well, but he has great difficulty in social situations. He does not know how to initiate conversations, especially with strangers. He cannot read body language and has difficulty recognizing humor. These are just a few aspects of the manifestation of this disorder in him. Others have different symptoms, which vary in degree. The point is, given an Asperger's diagnosis, the brother may not recognize that he is a third wheel and may not have the tools in his toolbox to understand when "Over It" would prefer to be without his company. Learning more about the disorder and its manifestations could help "Over It" gain compassion and understanding for this man, who could someday be a brother-in-law. — Proud Mom
Dear Proud Mom: I definitely agree that the onus is on "Over It" to become more informed and more tolerant. Here's a letter from another woman who has a son with Asperger's.
Dear Annie: After reading the letter from "Over It," I just had to express my anger at his referring to his girlfriend's brother as a "moron." Shame on him! Asperger's is a learning disability. You were correct in telling this man to move on so this woman can find someone who has a bigger heart and is accepting of people who are different. — Mom of a Loving Son With Asperger's
Dear Mom of a Loving Son With Asperger's: Thanks for writing. You're right. "Over It" needs to get over his prejudices. Here's one final letter on the subject.
Dear Annie: I appreciate your advice to "Over It," whose girlfriend has a brother on the autism spectrum. I would take it a step further. As someone who has worked in this field for 40 years, I would like to remind your readers that we are all lifelong learners. If the brother has not learned appropriate social skills in school, it's not too late. There are both services and funding in most communities that should help the brother to continue to develop meaningful social skills, participate in some structured social experiences and, if needed, find and train for employment. There are online social groups and even dating sites specific to individuals on the spectrum. Not knowing the community they live in, I would start with Autism Society of America and their local social services organization. People with autism spectrum disorder can live very productive and socially satisfying lives. It's not fair to him or his sister to assume that being a third wheel is the best he can do. — Voice of Experience
Dear Voice of Experience: Thank you for your insight. Readers can get in touch with the Autism Society of America at http://www.autism-society.org.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]