austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Good advice costs nothing and it's worth the price

One of the people at work regularly does the crossword puzzle, and that's on the page with with Doctor Gott, Bridge, and Dear Abby columns, as well as Doonesbury and (why not?) F Minus (which by the way featured a panel this week either a tribute to Mystery Science Theater 3000 or an independent re-creation of a classic Invention Exchange invention). Sometimes, I'll take the chance to read the columns, which occasionally have bits of madness. One of them came up this week, I think. ``Joyce'' asked for help in dealing with a co-worker from another department, whom she has encounters with a couple of times each week, and who consistently calls her by ``Sue'', a name which is fine yet wrong, even as a Dear Abby pseudonym. Abby's advice for how to correct him without embarrassment to any party:

DEAR POLITE: Try this. Tell him you have changed your name to Joyce --- that others are using it now and you'd appreciate it if he would, too. If he asks you the reason for the name change, say it's because all your life you have felt more like a Joyce than Sue. (It's true.)

I understand the sort of shyness and desire to avoid embarrassing situations, even if it's someone else getting embarrassed, which would go looking for ways to avoid pointing out to someone that he hasn't got your name even vaguely correct. Yet Abby's advice still strikes me as insane. It's the starting point for a dopey romantic comedy, not something that any actual person should do. One person I discussed this with suggested that maybe Abby was being sarcastic, pointing out that it's really not going to crush a person if you privately mention the mistake, although I have trouble imagining Dear Abby being sarcastic.

Really, I think the quality of her advice has declined sharply since she died. (She did die, didn't she?)

Trivia: The Chicago Tribune published a European edition until 1934, when it was bought by the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune for $50,000. Source: The Paper: The Life And Death Of The New York Herald Tribune, Richard Kluger.

Currently Reading: Designing The Centennial: A History Of The 1876 International Exhibition In Philadelphia, Bruno Gilberti. I'm not sure I came out of this knowing the Centennial Exposition better --- it's more about how the philosophy of expositions developed with chronology of events given only in passing --- but it has taught me the useful word ``vitrine''.


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