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home : columns : dear harriette February 28, 2020

12/19/2019 7:51:00 AM
Tenant questions donating to building handyman

DEAR HARRIETTE: A note was posted on my apartment door informing the tenants that one of the long-time handymen in the building is ill and won't be coming back. The person who posted this notice asked if we, the tenants, would make a donation to help him during his time of need.

I feel sorry for this man, but I never had much interaction with him. I would see him in the morning sometimes when he was collecting the trash or sweeping the hallways. He doesn't speak English, so we didn't ever say more than "good morning" or "thank you." Should I make a donation even though I hardly spoke to the man? -- Helping Hand

DEAR HELPING HAND: In a word -- YES! You might be amazed to learn how much this man has done to create comfort for you quietly, behind the scenes.

Too often, handymen, porters, concierges, front desk attendants and other support staff are overlooked. (The holiday season is the one time when tips are expected.) But they rarely make high wages, so the contributions that you and the other tenants make will likely go far to help this man during his time of need. Give generously as soon as you can! Add a card expressing your wishes for his improved health.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends loves the outdoors and the cold. I love the heat and the beach. Now that the winter weather is here, I don't spend too much time outside.

We sometimes walk together in the park for exercise, and my friend has invited me to walk with her for the next week or so, when the weather forecast predicts 30 degrees or below. She considers this mild. I consider it prime weather to trigger an asthma attack. I hate to bring up my health issues, but I don't want to risk an uncontrollable coughing fit in order to accommodate her request. How should I handle this? I know she thinks I'm a wuss when I turn down certain exercise activities, but this one doesn't sound smart for me. -- Block the Cold

DEAR BLOCK THE COLD: You know your body; pay attention to it. That doesn't necessarily mean that you can't walk outside with your friend. Assess your winter wardrobe. Do you have a warm hat, scarf, coat and gloves? You should have something to block the wind and cold from your face. Test out your gear. After all, you do have to go outside in the weather, even when you are not with her. What would you normally wear? Figure out how to dress to protect yourself. Then test to see how long you can stay outside in the cold without triggering a coughing fit. Tell your friend you will try. Make sure you have your inhaler in case you have a problem. I'd suggest limiting your walk to less than 30 minutes to avoid getting too cold.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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