Dear Annie: My good friend has a habit that makes it difficult for her fellow diners when she is out to eat. She frequently blows her nose at the table and places her dirty tissues in a pile on the table. If cloth napkins are being used, she has no problem blowing her nose in it. She has chronic bronchitis, so it is an ongoing problem.
She also takes bites of others' food with her used utensils without asking. She is easily offended, and I find it difficult to address these issues with her. How can I get her to stop this behavior without incurring her wrath? -- Grossed Out
Dear Grossed Out: Your friend's chronic bronchitis probably makes it impossible for her to go to the bathroom every time she needs to blow her nose, so you can forgive her for doing it at the table. Still, no one should have to eat lunch in the shadow of Mount Kleenex. Suggest to your friend that she keep a small plastic bag in her purse for storing used tissues until she can put them in a trash can. You could even bring one the next time so it's at the ready.
As for her helping herself to others' food without asking, there's no medical explanation for that. That's just chronic rudeness. The best solution is to call it out when it happens. The next time her fork makes its way to your plate, say, "Excuse me, but I wasn't finished with that." Do this every time it happens and eventually she'll decide it's not worth the embarrassment.
Dear Annie: Women have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. In the past, they even dressed up as men to be able to serve their country. But female active-duty service members and veterans are not given the same recognition as men.
I have a T-shirt that I wear that says, "I am a United States Air Force veteran." I've had a few people say it's nice my husband served. I don't have a husband. I am the veteran.
Similarly, in the female veterans organization I belong to, we have hats that say we are veterans and state our branch of service. We've almost never gotten a "Thank you for your service." We get walked past. Even when I've outright told people I was in the service, I don't get a thank-you.
I was in a restaurant recently where an active-duty servicewoman was sitting in her battle dress uniform. In the next booth was a Vietnam War veteran in a "Vietnam vet" baseball cap. A man walked right past the active-duty servicewoman and went to the next booth to thank the veteran for his service. Yes, the Vietnam veteran should have been recognized for his service; Vietnam vets have been denigrated for too many years for fighting a war no one wanted. But really, he couldn't see the woman sitting there in her uniform? She still is serving her country and deserves to be recognized for it.
Female veterans make up 9 percent of veterans today, and it will grow to 17 percent by the year 2043. Many of these women put their lives on the line every day, too. Female veterans who haven't been deployed have served in critical areas of our military, allowing for men to be able to fight on the front lines.
Please, Annie, remind our country that men and women have served in our military and that women would also like to be thanked for their service. -- A Vietnam-Era Female Veteran
Dear Veteran: Thank you for your service.
I'd like to encourage readers to donate to the Service Women's Action Network (https://www.servicewomen.org), which empowers women in the armed forces with access to the critical resources and services they need.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.