Dear Gayle,

I have a friend who is perfect. She would be perfectly humble about that, but I’m pretty sure she would believe it about herself anyway. It’s not usually a problem, but sometimes if she thinks my idea isn’t a good enough one or that she has a better one, she acts as if I’d just said something totally stupid, she gets this tone and tells me off the way someone would tell off a kid who didn’t know any better about something. I don’t let it hurt my self esteem, but it’s starting to grate on my nerves. Is there some way I could tell her about this?

— About Had It

Dear About,

There are several ways to tell her, I am sure. I do not believe that any one of them is likely to help, and some might hurt the situation even more. People who are even mildly condescending tend also to be unable to see themselves through anyone else’s eyes. If you came right out and told her what you told me, she would simply be quietly critical of you for not taking advantage of your opportunity to learn from your mistakes as she is pointing them out to you. Some people can tell us why they believe that our approach to an issue is not the best choice, and we are left feeling that we have been a part of the assessment process. Others, including your friend, can make us feel as though we have turned in our homework and gotten it back with yet another poor grade.

Have you yet asked yourself why you continue to be friends with this person? It seems to me that you are either very patient, very hopeful that she will develop insight at some point, or that, in spite of what you wrote to me, you are indeed having her attitude negatively affect your self esteem. There could be other reasons I have not thought of. Please accept now that you are highly unlikely to change this woman’s outlook with your words. You might do better to work on your own outlook to assess whether this friendship is worth continuing.

Dear Readers,

While the past two winters may have been mild enough to make believers of us all where global warming is concerned, it seems that this winter will make up for that comparatively toasty time. Even though the radio broadcasts public notices about taking animals inside during this particularly bitter cold spell, I am all-too-often shocked and saddened to see animals who might be able to weather freezing weather adequately being left to survive sub-freezing temperatures unaided, and often within sight of shelter. My thought is that, if you have chosen to be in charge of a life, be worthy of that responsibility.

I would also like to share a cold-weather tip I learned in one of my five semesters of adult auto mechanics classes. If you attempt to start your car in very cold conditions, and the engine does only a low-growling, cranking sound, you will soon be out of any battery power whatever. Cold batteries do not like to start. Immediately stop turning the key. Turn on your headlights and count off 10 seconds (my favorite is to count, “one chimpanzee, two chimpanzee, three chimpanzee…). Turn off the headlights. Try the key. Give this only three tries tops before accepting that even this will not help. Often, however, doing it will get a cold battery warm enough to start the car.

Recently, I have been leaving a phone charger plugged into the car’s cigarette lighter at all times during cold weather. The tiny LED light on that unit tells me that it is drawing off a trickle charge that is keeping my battery from freezing entirely. So far this winter, I have needed the aid of no chimpanzees to get the car engine to roll over. Obviously, either of these methods works best with newer car batteries. Good luck.

Last, I want to thank all of you who have been so supportive of me during my recent loss of my dear mother. So many of you know what a gut-punch the loss of a loved one is at any time of year. Your kind concerns and prayers are appreciated beyond even my words to express.

[Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to Anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards. Not all letters can be answered, but those that might have broader interest among our readers are more likely to be chosen. If you believe that you have something useful to add to a published response, please send it in; it will be considered.]

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