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ANNIE'S MAILBOX: Employee questions decision not to loan boss bicycle

Dear Annie: My pay isn't great, but it's better than minimum wage. I get no benefits, and my boss refuses to train me for anything more skilled than what I'm doing now, because he needs me for the lowest position. I ride a bike to work, and he often has me work at multiple locations in the area, sending me to pick up supplies.

Recently, he wanted to borrow my bike to get to an appointment and didn't want to pay for a cab. I said, "Nobody rides my bike but me." He was very insistent, but I still said no. If he damaged it and refused to pay, what would I do?

Anyway, he said, "I'm going to remember this the next time you need a favor." I wasn't aware that I had ever asked him for a favor. When I questioned him, he rattled off the time I left early to see the doctor because of a job-related injury, and the time he gave me the day off because I was sick, and I had to agree to come in the morning anyway. I wasn't paid for the sick day, either. I once asked to attend a safety seminar, but he wouldn't allow it. I told him those "favors" don't count, but he was still angry.

Was I selfish not to let this guy use my bike? He makes more than three times what I make, and I do my job diligently and honestly. -- Feeling Used

Dear Feeling: You were not wrong. Your boss was out of line to demand that you loan him your bike and then vaguely threaten you when you refused. Sometimes the best approach in these circumstances is to express your deep regret that you are unable to accommodate him ("I'm SO sorry that I can't loan you my bike"), adding how awkward it would be if he accidentally damaged it. He might still have given you a hard time, but repeating a very polite refusal would likely have limited the threatening attitude. Nonetheless, your boss sounds like a difficult person who is now out to punish you. We'd suggest seeing what other jobs are out there.

Dear Annie: Your suggestions to "Noreen in Nebraska" about checking the photos and flowery phrases of online suitors were excellent. I have some other hints to spot someone too good to be true:

They are overeager. They jump to respond to your profile within hours of your first posting it, and respond to any communication within minutes.

They claim to live in your town or nearby, but are "working overseas for several months or years."

Their spelling and grammar are incorrect for someone who claims to be native-born, and/or their communication doesn't make a lot of sense. It usually means they are cutting and pasting phrases from other sources.

They provide a phone number, but they won't call you first. Always verify the location of the area code before calling.

Most telling: They will never directly answer any personal questions. If you ask about their favorite local restaurant, they'll hedge.

I'm the voice of experience. I did meet my significant other on a dating site, but I had to sift through a lot of garbage first. -- Learned My Lesson

Dear Learned: Thanks for the added tips. We hope our readers are cautious.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at