Did you know that advice columnist, Jeanne Phillips (a.k.a. "Dear Abby") writes a column for a junior high school newspaper?
Wait... she doesn't?
Well, she could have fooled me with her juvenile response to "Taken Advantage of in Minnesota":
DEAR ABBY: I loaned money to a couple of family members when I was overseas. They had fallen behind on their bills, so I sent them each $1,000 to get caught up. It's two years later, and I have yet to see a dime from either one of them. I have sent them both letters asking to have "some" money paid back; both sent me excuses about why they can't pay anything. However, on Facebook they write about how they went shopping, joined a gym and so on. I feel I have been taken advantage of. What can I do to get this settled? -- TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF IN MINNESOTA
DEAR TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF: Try this ... post on your Facebook page: "It's funny what short memories some people have. I loaned 'Tom' and 'Geri' $1,000 two years ago when they fell behind on some bills. Instead of repayment, I have received nothing but excuses -- and all the while I see their postings about shopping at the mall and going to the gym. What DEADBEATS!"
Maybe it will shame your relatives into paying up. (Or not, because some people have no shame.)
Holy cow, I just broke into a cold sweat thinking of pre-calculus and junior prom and sitting awkwardly in the back of the classroom while the cheerleaders use their group book report as an excuse to flirt with the basketball team.
Honestly, Abby, have you no shame? Maybe I dozed through the section in "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" on using public humiliation as a means for achieving one's goals, but it seems to me that acting like a vengeful teenage girl isn't going to do anything to change anyone's behavior. It's only going to sow seeds of anger and defensiveness, neither of which will help "Taken" get what she wants.
So, Abby, try this on for size: Maybe you could suggest that "Taken Advantage of In Minnesota" talk privately with her relatives about their spending habits, which appear to suggest that they could afford to repay a small sum each month. Then set up a payment plan for an agreed upon dollar amount (whether it's $5 or $50) until the debt is repaid.
If they still won't pay up, "Taken" has two choices: take them to court (which doesn't do much in the way of promoting family harmony), or forgive the debt, forget about it, and never loan money to these people again.
In the end it's only money, and it's only a thousand dollars.
Ruining an otherwise good family relationship is hardly worth that.