DEAR NATHAN: I’m a 14-year-old girl with an embarrassing problem: I still suck my thumb. It has caused many arguments between my parents and me.
They paid a lot of money for my braces and retainer, and I’m on the verge of ruining my teeth. I have tried to stop by wearing a mitten, putting gross flavors on my thumb, etc., to no avail. Can you help me? — STILL A BABY IN THE SOUTH
DEAR STILL A BABY: Believe it or not, this is a very common problem. Surveys say that 9 out of 10 people still suck their thumbs. Now granted, this survey was only taken by my imaginary friends, but they were very adamant that sucking your thumb is not that weird.
The easiest solutions would be to either remove your thumbs or teeth. I suppose you could also have your jaw wired shut. All of these solutions, though, are a bit extreme.
The best option would be to head to Craigslist. I don’t know if you’ve ever been on there, but there are people who are desperate for a job and willing to do anything. For a low price, I’m sure you could find a person to follow you about and slap you upside the head anytime you start to suck on your thumb. If you don’t like the slapping idea, they could also spray you with a small spray bottle like people do when training cats. For an added bonus, fill that bottle with some low-grade acid. There might be light facial scarring, but you would stop sucking your thumb really quick.
Good luck keeping your thumb out of your mouth,
DEAR NATHAN: We rented a car while we were on vacation. Most of the newer cars have all kinds of high-tech equipment and devices — different kinds for different models of vehicles. The problem is the instruction booklets that describe how the equipment operates are never provided with the cars.
It’s dangerous to try and figure out how the equipment operates by trial and error while starting to drive an unfamiliar vehicle. Why don’t the rental agencies provide the instruction manuals, or at least a pamphlet summarizing the procedures? Surely not many people would steal them, since they’re just using the cars for a short time.
Also, it would be helpful if the rental agencies would include an inexpensive ice scraper with every car in appropriate areas of the country, so customers could clean their windshields and avoid the hazard of obstructed vision. — CAR RENTER IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.
DEAR CAR RENTER: You seem to have mistakenly thought that this is the Hertz Rent-A-Car customer service page. Don’t worry, this happens all the time. You wouldn’t believe how many complaints I get on a daily basis saying they requested a full size sedan but only received a coupe.
As far as the dangers of not having the manual, I honestly don’t see the issue. In my life, I have read about five pages of a vehicular manual. The main things I need to know are where the gas and brake pedals are and how to turn on the lights and windshield wipers. These tend to be in the same place and identifying these things usually takes about 30 seconds before pulling away. Now, if car companies start moving the locations of pedals or making it where the wipers can only be activated by a switch in the trunk, then I could understand.
That said, I think that if I owned a car company, I have found a quick way to make a buck. In addition to renting the car and insurance for the car, I would start renting manuals. They come with the car anyway. You might as well make a bit of money off of them. For $5 a day, I would let you rent that manual so that you can figure out all of the gadgets.
Man, maybe I should run the Hertz customer service page .
Looking forward to my newfound car rental career,
DEAR NATHAN: I am an 11-year-old boy, and my mom says if I want something at the store, I have to pay for it myself. I try to do chores for money, but I’m always too busy with schoolwork. I barely get enough time to play outside. Do you have any suggestions on how to get money? — NEEDS $$
DEAR NEEDS $$: Boy, do I ever! Have you ever seen “Breaking Bad”?
Ha ha ha. I’m just joking around. Don’t worry. Someday you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I know that a lot of kids get money from chores and running lemonade stands, etc. Since you seem like a good kid based on the 60 words in your letter, I will give you a good money-making scheme.
I think we can both agree that doing chores is the worst. In fact, I bet you could find a number of friends who also think it is awful. Here is the plan: unionize the workers. Have all of your friends organize a strike until they get a raise in their pay. The lawns will go unmowed, the windows unwashed. The dirt on the floors would pile higher and higher until, eventually, all of the neighborhood’s parents would cave.
What’s in this for you? Simple: each member of this union would be required to pay dues. For a low monthly payment of $5 a month from each of them, they can join the union. As union boss, you can “invest” those funds for the union. I recommend reading about Al Capone for pointers.
In retrospect, this idea may be as bad as the “Breaking Bad” idea.
Good luck finding advice that doesn’t involve something terribly illegal,