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DEAR ABBY: I am an adjunct teacher in a small college in the Midwest. For the most part, my students are great, but one breaks my heart. I admire him because he has overcome some incredible obstacles. Last year, he lost a good job and had to drop out for a time. He's back now, and when I asked about his new job, he said he runs a strip club.
At first, I thought he was kidding, but he assured me he manages more than 50 ladies who, at the end of their shift, leave with their lives and their dignity. He doesn't strike me as a common street pimp and I realize he took this job to survive. I'd like to approach him outside the classroom and offer to help not just him, but his employees. I don't want to come across as a do-gooder, but I don't think this is a great career.
I know this letter may make for some funny water cooler conversations, but the truth is people who get sucked into the vice trade have a hard time getting out and often come to a bad end. Do I care about my students too much, or am I being judgmental?
- Wants to help in Illinois
DEAR WANTS: I think it's a little of both. You are well-meaning, but may have jumped to some incorrect conclusions. Managers of adult entertainment clubs are not "pimps"; they are club managers. Further, just as not all prostitutes are exotic dancers, not all exotic dancers are prostitutes. Many are single women working to support themselves and their children; others may be students trying to pay for their educations.
Before trying to "rescue" any of them, visit the club and see firsthand what is - and is NOT - going on there. If there are underage girls being forced to work there, report it to the police. If not, recognize that they are adults and able to make their own career choices. While I admire your good heart, the individuals you're worried about may not need your assistance.
DEAR ABBY: I want to ask your opinion about something. I work at a donut shop inside a college campus. I have a tip jar, and many customers are generous and share their change with me.
My problem is other people who feel entitled to the money in my tip jar. There have been instances when some of them realized they were a few cents short, so they stuck their hands in my tip jar and fished out the coins they wanted. It is not out of ignorance! The jar is clearly labeled "Tips - Thank you." If I tell them they can't take the money, they get angry. One lady screamed at me, saying I was "selfish," and the money in the jar shouldn't be just for me!
What do you think, Abby? Am I too upset over a few cents? Or am I right to feel robbed and stand up for myself when people do this?
- Doing my job on campus
DEAR DOING MY JOB: I don't blame you for feeling robbed. Your tips ARE meant just for you, and you have earned every penny your customers left in recognition of your good service. What these people are doing is petty theft. Some establishments avoid this problem by leaving a small container of pennies on the counter. Please suggest it to your boss.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.