Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Illinois Library Patron

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: Shortly after I had knee surgery, I went to the library wearing my (prescribed) compression wrap to prevent blood clots. This compression wrap makes an intermittent humming sound. A few minutes after entering, the librarian walked over and asked what the humming noise was. I showed her the compression wrap and said that the medical equipment was prescribed by my surgeon. She then asked me if I could turn it off. I did, but I wasn't happy about it.

After leaving the library, I turned the compression wrap back on and went to the post office next door. I asked the postal employee if the noise bothered her and she said it was perfectly OK to wear it in the post office.

Tell me, Annie. If a library patron were using an oxygen tank, would the librarian ask the person to turn off the oxygen, which makes more noise than the compression wrap? What should I have said, after explaining why I was wearing the compression wrap? Wasn't she in the wrong to expect me to turn off medical equipment? -- Illinois Library Patron

Dear Patron: Libraries are supposed to be quiet places (although we get plenty of letters saying otherwise). Nonetheless, most libraries these days have areas where some conversation and even cellphone use is permitted. Someone probably complained about the noise from your compression wrap, but a piece of medical equipment should be tolerated. If necessary, the librarian could have directed you to a more relaxed space. You can phone the library and ask about their noise policy and explain what happened. We think you deserve an apology.

Dear Annie: Please tell me whether I am overreacting. We had a very special surprise birthday in an upscale restaurant for my husband's 90th birthday. Reluctantly, I invited his first wife's niece and nephew. The first wife passed away several years ago. (I am his third wife.)

During the dinner, this couple stood up and spoke to the assembled guests about my husband's courtship and marriage to the first wife. This went on for about 12 minutes, dragging down an otherwise joyful occasion.


I considered this to be extremely crude and rude, and thought it showed very poor manners. What do you think? -- Third Wife

Dear Wife: We think the couple could have found a better time to express these thoughts. Had it been your anniversary party, this would be in extremely poor taste. However, it was a celebration of your husband's birthday, and all good memories are to be cherished. His late wife poses no threat to you, and it is natural for your husband to recall her fondly and for her relatives to make the effort to remind him of her. They may have assumed that, with another wife in between, you would not mind too much. Either way, please be the bigger person and let this go. It serves no purpose to hold a grudge or continue to be annoyed. You look so much better when you are gracious about such things.


"Annie's Mailbox" is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar. This column was originally published in 2016. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at




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