Dear Gayle,

My friends will all want to go to Kennywood when it gets nicer out and they want me to go but I don’t want to. I like the shooting gallery and games, but most of the rides scare me. Some people like to be scared. Not me. I could go with them but they’d keep wanting me to ride rides and I wouldn’t want to. I’d go if they wouldn’t do that, but they will. Should I just say no I can’t go, or should I go and keep saying no there about getting on rides?

— Afraid

Dear Afraid,

It is apparent that you have been through this before, so if you choose to go to an amusement park with these friends, you know what you would be in for. When they last bugged you to try rides, they may have thought that, by going on scary rides and surviving them, you would get over your great fear. This may be true, but if you are not willing to be put through it, you should not be. Before the first invitation to a park comes, use an opportunity when you are with your friends to tell them of your concerns. If they are true friends, they will agree to allow you to freely choose your own amusements at the park so you can enjoy the day as much as they will be enjoying it.

Dear Gayle,

Just because men are allowed to walk around outside without a shirt on doesn’t mean they all should. Could you say something about this in your column please?

— Being Blinded

Dear Blinded,

You just did.

Dear Readers,

Saturday was Great American Clean-Up Day. I had the mixed pleasure of working alongside several other volunteers as we cleaned trash from our assigned section of a roadway. We gathered so many bags of trash that it was hard to keep in mind that it had just been cleaned entirely only a year before and in years before that. Even so, I did notice that the amount of trash this year seemed noticeably lighter than what had been gathered in the several previous years I have cleaned this same stretch. Still, there was enough stuff to pick up that, for hard-working, first-time volunteers, Lily and Jack, this project was eye opening.

As I walked, stooped and hauled, I realized that I owe a number of thank-yous. I would first like to thank God for such a perfect day to be out there. It usually rains on clean-up day. I would like to thank my fellow volunteers for being the upbeat, positive people that they are. No one wants to spend hours with grumblers, and the time was made far nicer spent with happy people. I would like to thank all the drivers who slowed down as driving past us. Having you show that concern for our safety helped us to feel more secure out walking the road. I would like to thank Lady Bird Johnson for bringing our trash-strewn highways, parks and streets to our attention as something we needed to address as a nation. I would like to thank PennDOT for organizing a way for us to address those concerns, and for providing orange vests and work gloves. I would like to thank The Old Bank Deli’s Raquel and Missy for providing breakfast sandwiches, donuts and coffee for the volunteers. That was a wonderful surprise. I would like to thank the driver of the big white pick-up who gunned his engine as driving past me. As I inhaled those fumes, I realized that your laying rubber for that stretch is an indication that your personal economy is in a good enough place right now that you can afford to leave gasoline and rubber behind. I would like to thank those who littered trash this past year for doing less of that, for having fewer glass items, (which are heavier to carry, and if broken, require more care to pick up).

The day after the pick-up, my back complained that it is not used to such activity. That pain is nothing compared to the pain of spotting the first aluminum can lying roadside in the area people just worked so hard to improve. Still, my biggest concern relates to how many broken car parts were waiting for us. It means that drivers are hitting a lot of deer and each other. Please be careful out there driving. And please consider joining a clean-up crew next year as we work to make even just one area that much nicer for us all.

[Gayle Wright is a mental health counselor doing area agency and hospital social work. Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to where your anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards.]

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