From Fear of Officials to Condiment Control

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Suzanne Gelb Image ‘Insecure — Why do I Put People on Pedestals?’ Q: Dear Dr. Gelb: I am always complaining to my friends about what’s going on in government or things I don’t like and wish there could be some changes, and they always say, “Call your Senator, call your Congressman” and I get scared because I think they are such an important person. I’m afraid to call. What causes me to be so afraid? Fearful Caller A: Dr. Gelb says . . . Dear Fearful: Many of us project our own authority on other people. But if we step back and really consider what we are afraid of it, much of the time we can find that the fear really does not hold any value. I have known lots of people, for example, who have been plagued by the fear you describe, until they decided to consider that all public officials are their employees, even the president. As such, they realized that they have the right to speak to these officials and voice their approval or disapproval about what is going on in their government, and in their schools, for example. They keep in mind that their tax dollars pay the salaries of city or government employees. That makes them their employee. So if I were in your situation, I would re-evaluate my fear, gain back some confidence, and make the call. “I imagine that you have a legitimate point to make.” ‘Food — How to Best Season it?’ Q: Dear Dr. Gelb: My favorite restaurant complaint — I like to season my food with a nominal portion of salt and pepper. Invariably when I pick up the saltshaker and start salting my food, it pours out more salt than I want. Now my food is too salty. What would be the appropriate thing to do? Too Salty A: Dr. Gelb says . . . Dear Salty: I can relate to your experience, and as you probably have found out, it is not uncommon for restaurant condiment dispensers to vary, especially when it comes to salt and pepper shakers. Sometimes a patron may pick up a pepper or saltshaker and someone has left the lid off or loose — then they start to shake it and it dumps in their plate. Or, sometimes the holes in the shakers vary in size from restaurant to restaurant. I have found that the best resolve to a problem such as the one you describe, is to develop a habit of testing the condiment containers in the palm of one’s hand, especially salt and pepper before dispense it on food. Even though some restaurants will compensate a patron for their error in judgment with a salt or pepper shaker, for example, by preparing another meal for them, it is important not to take advantage of this. ”Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.” ”This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see” “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says” ”Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”