Counter culture makes Abby feel like gagging

DEAR ABBY: I work in the print center of an office-supply store. Often when parents of small children come in to get copies made, they'll sit their babies/toddlers on the counter while we discuss their needs. Sometimes these children have dirty diapers.

Would it be appropriate to ask these parents to remove their children from the counter? Because my workplace is geared toward satisfying the customer, I worry about offending a customer and displeasing management. I haven't said anything so far, but this is really getting to me.

- Disgusted in Ohio

DEAR DISGUSTED: After reading your letter, I confess that my first impulse was to gag. The idea of a child in a soiled diaper sitting on a counter in a place of business is, indeed, disgusting. You would be doing your employer a favor to suggest that if a child should fall off the counter, there could be liability involved.

Tell the customer that for the child's safety to please remove him/her from the counter. And if the child has a dirty diaper, make sure you have a large supply of sanitary wipes on hand so staff and customers will be protected from the bacteria.

DEAR ABBY: My neighbors borrow my lawnmower every summer to mow their lawns. It broke down, and I had to purchase a new one.

The dealer told me not to loan it to anyone because they pushed the old one over sticks and stones and destroyed the blades. How do I tell them to buy their own mowers? My new one is expensive.

- Against Mower-Moochers

DEAR A.M-M.: Here's how: Keep uppermost in your mind that it is perfectly all right to advocate for yourself. Then tell your mower-mooching neighbors that after what happened to the last one, you are no longer loaning your mower to anyone.