Dear Abby: My wife’s two sons frequently stop by or call ahead with literally 10 minutes to a half-hour’s notice.

Dear Abby: In our 20 years of marriage, my wife’s two sons have frequently stopped by or called ahead with literally 10 minutes to a half-hour’s notice. It usually happens around mealtime, when we aren’t prepared for feeding multiple people.

I plan every meal in advance, and would welcome them to visit with a little common courtesy. We had two lamb chops in the oven and 10 minutes before we were ready to eat when one of the sons and his wife called to stop right over. I was furious, but my wife said they’ll be gone in 10 minutes. It turned into an hour. I was waiting for them to leave, but then my wife invited them to stay for dinner. I blew up and hollered loud enough that they all left, which later led to a huge argument.

My wife insists family can stop by anytime. I disagree. Common courtesy should be taught, and there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Now’s not good. How about in an hour or two?” Who’s right?

Husband in the Kitchen

Dear Husband: Everyone was wrong in this unfortunate situation. The son and his wife know your routine. They shouldn’t have been stopping by without warning. Your wife should not have allowed them to sit around making small talk for an hour while your dinner was growing cold. For her to have invited them to stay for dinner when there wasn’t enough food was thoughtless.

I can’t blame you for losing your temper, if this is something you and your wife have discussed before. However, it could have been handled without raising your voice. In the future, perhaps you could have some prepared meals in your freezer for occasions like this. Or, when family calls to say they are on the way, you can suggest they bring something with them.

Dear Abby: I work at a corporate office, where I’m treated very well. My boss is nothing but polite to me and even takes the time to joke around with me. Although she is kind to me, she’s curt and rude to other staff members. Two of them have quit their positions and expressed that one of the main reasons was how stressed they felt because of how she treated them. Besides being rude, she also went out of her way to criticize their work.

She is now bullying a third staff member, who confided that they, too, aren’t sure they want to stick around. To complicate this further, the head of HR is a close friend of my boss, so no one feels comfortable reporting her. How can I let her know she’s creating a tense atmosphere when I haven’t experienced her behavior myself?

Fretting in Philly

Dear Fretting: Although you like your boss and are loyal to the company, I think it would be unwise to do what you have in mind. From your description of what has been happening, your boss may be behaving this way with certain employees so they will quit and she won’t be required to give them unemployment benefits.

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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.