DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and will be attending school in another state next semester. For the past year and a half, I've been in a lot of trouble at school and with the police. I got involved with a boyfriend who was a very bad influence on me. I really liked the guy, and because of that, I helped him steal cars, break into houses and sell drugs. I also did drugs, drank alcohol and was sexually involved with both him and his brother.
After spending months in juvenile hall, I have been released back to my parents and back to my high school. My parents have arranged for me to live with my aunt and uncle, who live over 1,000 miles away. I'm looking forward to the move because I'm done with my former boyfriend and I want a fresh start.
My only concern is that my bad reputation might follow me. That would be devastating. What can I do to see that this reputation stays in California? — Nameless, Long Beach, Calif.
NAMELESS: This is a wonderful opportunity to start over. The only way your past can travel to your new school is if you talk about it. You should learn from your past mistakes, but you needn't advertise them. Your new classmates will judge you by the way you are with them. If you get involved in school activities, smile a lot and treat people with kindness, they are sure to respond positively. And you will be a very happy young lady. The longer you enjoy being happy, the less you will remember your troubled past. Contact me and let me know how things are going for you after your move.
YOU BORROWED A CAR, YOU PAY FOR THE DAMAGE
DR. WALLACE: Last week I borrowed my girlfriend's car so I could go to work because my car was getting transmission work done. While the car was parked behind the restaurant where I wait tables, someone backed into it and put a dent in the passenger door. It wasn't a huge dent, but it was noticeable. When I gave the car back to Laura, I told her about the dent. She didn't seem upset because she thought her insurance would pay for getting it fixed.
Now it turns out the insurance she has won't cover it because it only covers damage over $500 and this dent was estimated at $350. Her father told me I had to pay for the repair. I told him I didn't think I should because I didn't damage the car. Somebody else did, and didn't put a note on the windshield giving their name, address and phone number.
My girlfriend gave me permission to use the car and the dent was not my fault. I'd like your opinion. — Steve, Goshen, Ind.
STEVE: This is a no-brainer. You borrowed a car and returned it damaged. It's your duty to pay up!
What are you thinking? Why would you put your girlfriend through this sort of conflict with her father? She was kind enough to loan you her car and now you're trying to stick her — or her parents — with a repair bill. Shame on you! Work out a payment plan and go on with life. Make sure your car is in good running condition because your girlfriend's car won't ever be available again.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.