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DEAR ABBY

Dear Abby: Volunteer shocked by teachers' attire

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Dear Abby: This past week I read to the students at a local grammar school. I read to kindergarteners, second- and fourth-graders. The children were great, quiet and attentive. They asked insightful questions about the stories.

The teachers, on the other hand, were a disappointment. They dressed the way I dress when I work in the yard -- jeans and T-shirts. What an unprofessional image they presented to these youngsters! They missed a wonderful opportunity to be a positive example of women in the workforce by displaying a total disregard for their appearance or the impact they have on young minds. -- SAD TO SEE IN NEVADA

Dear Sad: I, too, remember when teachers dressed more formally in the classroom. But that was then and this is now. On the bright side, one would hope that teachers gain the respect and affection of their students less on how they look and more on the love of learning they are able to instill.

Dear Abby: I recently took two days off from work to stay home with a cold. When I returned to work, a co-worker started commenting on how I might be contagious. Then during our lunch break, she commented that she didn't want me to sit next to her "because she didn't want to get sick." I told her there were plenty of other seats if she preferred to sit elsewhere, and sarcastically thanked her for making me feel "welcomed."

She continues to bring it up and is now pushing everyone to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their work areas. I'm offended. I think it's rude. A couple of co-workers are now sick with similar symptoms. Is she being rude, or am I oversensitive? And how should I respond? -- OFFENDED IN THE MIDWEST

Dear Offended: Your co-worker isn't rude; she's a germaphobe and with good reason. If everyone was careful to use hand sanitizer and sanitize their workstations and shared surfaces -- door knobs, light switches, lunchroom equipment -- there would be fewer individuals taking sick days. In a case like this, you should stop being defensive. The best way to respond to the woman is not to respond at all.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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