Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can my son tell if his cleaner is stealing from him?

24 August 2019

9:00 AM

24 August 2019

9:00 AM

Q. What is your view on emailed vs handwritten thank-yous? During my recent travels around pre-Brexit Europe I stayed in a dreamy house in the south of France. It was a little taste of paradise. Our host was Anglo-Scots but, since she is highly peripatetic, I asked her to which address I should send my thank-you letter. She replied: ‘Just email me.’ Surely this can’t be right, Mary? This was more than a chatty house party. On the other hand, my host is now travelling around pre-Brexit Europe herself and it may be some months till she gets back to either of her UK bases. Every day that I don’t send an email I seem ever ruder, yet to me it seems equally rude to use email for something so personal.
What is your view?
— Name and address withheld

A. Email is inadequate in situations where you wish to express authentic enthusiasm. It is much better to channel your passion through the pen so the handwriting itself can convey the sincerity of your outpourings. Given the time delay till the recipient gets home, however, you should use the following method: write on traditional writing paper. Photograph each page with your iPhone. Make the pages into a PDF file and email this to your host. Put the original into the post for her to receive in the future.

Q. My son, who lives alone, is a busy man, slightly chaotic and absent-minded. Even taking this into account, more things than usual seem to have gone missing since a new cleaner came to work for him. I have met this woman and I have a nagging feeling that she is dishonest. My son is not in the market for having hidden cameras installed, but he agrees with my writing to you to see if you have any ideas to try to establish whether or not this cleaner may be light-fingered.
— Name withheld, Wilmslow

A. Your son should start paying for things by cash so he can generate lots of change to tip into some kind of large bowl, always swishing the coins around into a muddle, yet always leaving exactly, let’s say, £16 in £1 coins. After a while he will see if petty theft has taken place. And if petty theft can be observed, then grand theft is likely.

Q. How do you say ‘no’ to a spa therapist who tries to get you to buy products after a treatment? I always feel so guilty — and irrational — saying no after he or she has worked hard to convince me my skin needs these products. It’s not the money — I just don’t like being pressured into buying things, especially when one is vulnerable, post-massage.
— B.R., London SW10

A. Exclaim you’d love to buy them but don’t dare since your husband/wife has given you a stack of similar products and will be offended if you don’t try them first.

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