Ask Amy: Estranged husband shows up on family vacation

Dear Amy: My cousin “Joan” has been separated from her husband for 16 months.

He has been having an affair with a woman in town.

Joan recently decided, very generously, that she wanted to take her children and grandchildren to Orlando. Her soon-to-be-ex husband “Steve” said that he wanted to come along.

She told him absolutely not.

The day of the trip, Steve showed up at the airport, got on their plane and joined them.

Joan was devastated. Based on their behavior at the airport, it appeared that her children knew all along that Steve was coming.

Joan cried all the way there. At the hotel she told her two children that she was devastated that they included Steve on a trip (that she was hosting and paying for) without her permission.

They told her it was all about the children and that she shouldn’t be so upset.

Joan wanted to come home that same evening.

She wanted to tell Steve to go home, but then she was afraid that her children would hold that against her and not let her see her grandchildren, so she stayed.

Her children do not seem to think there’s anything wrong with the fact that they basically ambushed her.

Joan spent the three days feeling betrayed, used, and brokenhearted; memories that she had hoped to make were forever ruined.

What is your take on this?

— Joan’s Cousin

Dear Cousin: My take on this episode is that it is an outrageous boundary-leap.

Let’s stipulate that “Steve” was perhaps pulling an obnoxious power play by muscling in on this vacation.

I cannot imagine what “Joan’s” adult children were thinking when they participated in this stunt, but let’s try the kindest possible scenario: that they were manipulated by their father, and this was just an enormous miscalculation and a terribly executed and failed attempt to possibly “Parent Trap” their folks together.

Given how terribly this went and how upset their mother was, they owe her sincere explanations and apologies. Instead, they chose to tell their mother that she shouldn’t feel her own feelings.

It’s too bad that Joan has allowed her children to terrify her into believing that they would withhold access to the grandchildren if she doesn’t do their bidding. As long as she permits them to control her in this way, they will continue to act out and then blame her for reacting.

I hope that Joan follows through with a speedy divorce.

Any legal agreement might include language that ex-spouses are NOT to show up on family vacations where the other ex is present, without prior knowledge.

Dear Amy: Pre-pandemic, it was customary to tip restaurant servers and occasionally a barista. Then, during the pandemic it became customary to leave a gratuity when picking up a take-out order. We did so as a way to help support restaurant servers whose establishments were forced to suspend in-person dining.

Today restaurants are back open and, it seems, filled with patrons. Yet we’re still asked to include a gratuity for take-out meals. In fact, many of the credit card terminals prompt you to provide a tip (typically 18 percent or greater) before completing the transaction!

I respect and value restaurant workers, especially servers, as I was one for many years during high school and college. Yet I feel like I’m being pressured to provide a tip even when I have no interaction with a server and am not getting any more service than I did pre-pandemic.

— Big Tipper

Dear Big Tipper: The “tip” you’re prompted to add before even receiving your food (as many payment terminals do) should be considered a “service fee” and yes, it is recommended that you should add on this fee — or customize your own.

Takeout orders are often packaged by servers, and yes, these restaurant workers continue to be underpaid and rely on tips. My understanding is that when receiving a takeout order, the person who has packaged your order receives the fee.

Dear Amy: “Sad and Empty” wrote that her husband was going on a camping trip with a single woman. Sad wondered why a single woman would ever agree to go camping with a married man.

This reminded me of a friend’s situation.

As clueless young women she and I did not understand that all her

“dates” with a new boyfriend were weekend hunting trips because he was married. He’d told his wife he was hunting with the guys.

It’s so obvious now.

— Older and Wiser

Dear Wiser: “Older and wiser.” And sometimes … just older. Sigh.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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