Life Advice



Annie's Mailbox: Stressed-Out Employee

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar on

Dear Annie: My office is a horrible place to work. My bosses are impossible and have no compassion for any of their employees.

I have been told to stop having an asthma attack and get back on the phones. We have to ask permission to use the restroom and write down the time we leave and return. I have a doctor's note saying that I need to use the restroom frequently and was told too bad, get adult diapers. Yesterday, my manager hung up on me because I didn't respond to an e-mail she had sent after I left the office for the day.

Don't bother telling me to lodge a complaint with our human resources department. We have a human resources staff, but they are a joke. They either "lose" your paperwork or do nothing.

I have high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome, and my job stress causes my stomach acid to back up in my throat. I talk on the phone all day, and I can't take time off to let my vocal cords recuperate. Please help. -- Stressed-Out Employee

Dear Employee: Since you have a documented medical condition, it's possible you have recourse through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( You also can look into the growing number of books that deal with managing workplace stress and offer techniques to help you cope. Beyond that, we strongly recommend looking for another job. The place you are at now sounds like a nightmare.

Dear Annie: "Lori in St. Augustine, Florida," offers good safety advice for hikers and campers. I have a recommendation to add to her suggestion of carrying a whistle. It also is a smart idea to wear a fanny pack with survival essentials such as a pocket knife, lighter, flashlight, reflecting mirror, compass, small Mylar blanket and maybe a protein bar or two.

I have never been lost in the woods, but I am a scuba diver and have been lost at sea. My mirror came in handy once when I was forgotten by a Caribbean dive boat and left to float in open water. A passing boat saw my mirror flashes and took me back to port.

The most important recommendation is this: If lost in the wilderness, stay put. Don't risk becoming hopelessly lost. Let help find you. -- Mark in Connecticut


Dear Mark: Thanks for your additional safety tips -- all of which are excellent.

Dear Annie: Several weeks ago, I responded to a letter in your column from a woman who wanted her late father to have a military funeral. I said that her local American Legion or VFW Post could provide military honors, and that they would no doubt be willing to arrange a memorial service at the gravesite and render a three-volley salute. I added that a 21-gun salute is reserved only for high-echelon persons. You later printed a follow-up letter from Lt. Col. Harold Hanig, saying my information was incorrect and a 21-gun salute is available to all eligible military veterans.

Please allow me to clear this up. Although it is a common misconception, the salute at military funerals is not a 21-gun salute. According to the Arlington National Cemetery website, the practice of firing three rifle volleys over the grave originated in the old custom of halting the fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield. The army would then fire three volleys to indicate that the dead had been cared for and that they were ready to continue fighting.

The fact that the firing party consists of seven riflemen, firing three volleys, does not constitute a 21-gun salute. An actual 21-gun salute means 21 shots fired one at a time, in honor or memory of a high-ranking official or for a special occasion, such as Memorial Day. -- Bobbe Stuvengen, Past National Historian, The American Legion, Orfordville, Wisconsin

Dear Bobbe Stuvengen: We've often wondered what the distinction was. Thank you for setting the record straight.


"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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