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Dear Abby 4/2
Manager who grabs brass ring ends up with tarnished hands
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    DEAR ABBY: I just made the biggest career mistake of my life. I was working for a wonderful company. Then a former co-worker told me about a management position opening at the agency she went to work for. I thought it would be my golden opportunity for advancement. I submitted my resume and, after two interviews, got the job.
    The problem: This is the unfriendliest company I have ever seen. Management belittles staff. Praise is seldom given. There is no kindness, no "good mornings" uttered — the people here are just plain MEAN.
    I am a friendly, outgoing person, and I'm having a hard time adapting. I miss my old job. I realize now that I made a hasty decision, and I don't know what to do. My old position has been filled, so there's no way I can go back. What should I do? -- RELUCTANT MANAGER IN VERMONT
    DEAR RELUCTANT MANAGER: Your predicament proves the truth of the saying, "The grass isn't always greener." For the sake of your mental health, start looking for another job. There is no way you are going to change the corporate culture in the place you're now working.
    Don't discount your old workplace; stay in touch. Something may open up there, and your former colleagues may be glad to welcome you back.

    DEAR ABBY: Help! I am engaged to a man with three kids — a 7-year-old girl and 9-year-old twin boys — and soon to become a stepmom. He has them about half the time.
    The family all believe their biological mother is failing miserably, and I feel as though they view me as a suitable substitute. I like his children, but I have three of my own. One is grown; two are teenagers. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and do not want to start over again raising someone else's kids.
    Can I marry this man and not have to raise his kids? Or is that what a stepmother does? I would be happy just being their friend. -- UNCERTAIN STEPMOM IN NEW ENGLAND
    DEAR UNCERTAIN: Although you would be happy just being their friend, at their ages and with the biological mother "failing miserably," face it: There will be plenty of mothering going on. Of course you will have a hand in raising those children — it goes with the territory. If that's not what you are willing to sign on for, you should not marry him. Sorry.
    DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Lee," and I have been married two years and have kept all of our finances separate, including having different auto insurance policies.
    While I was away on a business trip, Lee moved my car and parked it in our circular driveway. Subsequently, a tree limb broke and dented my car's trunk.
    I was extremely distressed that damage was done to my car when I wasn't even in the vicinity. I feel that, as a minimum, Lee should pay half of my car's deductible. He refuses because he says it was an act of nature.
    Obviously neither of us was directly to blame, but I truly believe he should pay half the deductible because he moved my car in the first place. What do you think? -- OUT ON A LIMB IN GEORGIA
    DEAR OUT ON A LIMB: I see the logic. However, it depends on why your husband moved your car. If Lee moved it because it was street-cleaning or trash collection day, then he should not be penalized. However, if he moved it on a whim, he should fork over his half of the deductible.
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