Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: I am a contracted legal assistant for an attorney who never pays me on time. I have worked for her part time for over 10 years, and the contract she drafted states that I turn in my hours from the previous month on the first of each month and she will pay me by the fifth of each month.

Typically she says, "I'll pay you when I get back from vacation" or "I'll leave a check for you," and then she doesn't. Sometimes I won't be paid until the 10th or later. If I remind her that she's supposed to pay me by the fifth, she will get snippy and chide me. She is not always easy to work with. I continue to work for her because I love the job and the schedule allows me to volunteer at my children's school. I haven't had a raise in eight years, receive no health insurance, no COLA, no paid vacation and, because I am a contract worker, I pay my own taxes. My husband's job provides health insurance. Even though he makes a decent living, this is money that I have worked for and earned. When she doesn't pay me in a timely fashion, I feel like I am not a valued employee, and I would like to tell her that when she doesn't pay me on time, it makes me feel that way. My husband says I shouldn't address it.

Waiting for the Dough

DEAR WAITING: Your boss' excuses and explanations are unacceptable. She could very easily pay you with one click from her bank's website on a regular schedule.

You should suggest automatic online bill paying.

The best response, however, is for you to stop waiting for your checks and stop discussing this with her. Parlay your extensive experience and expertise into getting a new part-time legal assistant job with another attorney who respects people -- and contracts.

Every single thing you report about your boss -- the lack of a raise, the lack of prompt payment and her attitude toward you -- reflects her lack of respect for you. Document everything.

DEAR AMY: My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. I am 24 and he is 27. We have enjoyable, well-paying careers, own our home and are busy redecorating. We have had a number of friends get engaged within the last year and are planning weddings. Almost all of these couples feel that because they are engaged, we should be engaged too. Every time I am with any of them, they ask when we are getting married, when he is buying me a ring, etc. Even my single friends and his family have started asking. Neither of us is in a rush to be married. Our lifestyle is very different than that of our engaged friends. We are not as eager to be married as they are. We can still do all the things we want to do without signing a marriage certificate. What do I say to these people to get them to stop asking? I've already tried "We aren't in a rush," and it doesn't work. I don't feel I owe them a huge explanation. I just want something that may stop the repetition.

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DEAR WONDERING: How about saying with a sigh, "Please stop asking me about this. If we ever get engaged, you'll be the first to know."

DEAR AMY: "Free at Last" described encounters with her husband's volatile sister-in-law, who threatened people on Facebook and described having guns. Free described her as a "nut job." Yes, Free should definitely keep her distance, but if it is true (and not just an empty threat) that this woman has firearms, somebody in this family should definitely intervene. I think we all know the tragedy that can result from a mentally ill person in possession of a gun.


DEAR CONCERNED: Many readers mentioned this. I agree and thank you.