DEAR AMY: I have been using a national cleaning firm to have sporadic cleaning done in my home. Recently, the woman who has been doing the cleaning called and told me that she no longer worked for the national company. She said she had started her own company.

The reason I contracted with the company in the first place is because I felt assured that all taxes etc. were paid and the workers were legal. However, this woman did a superb job and is very, very nice.

Should she be calling customers of her former employer? Should I hire her to do my cleaning? -- Leaning Toward Cleaning

DEAR LEANING: This woman has the right to start her own business and pursue clients from her former client list, and you have the right to hire her.

It would be unethical if she were still employed by the cleaning company and pursued your business on the side, but it doesn’t sound as if she is doing this.

It would also be unethical (to say the least) if she didn’t personally clean for you and lifted your contact information from the employer with an eye toward poaching your business.

If you like and trust her and if she is a competent cleaner, then ask to see a contract, read it carefully and make sure she is following the legal guidelines that are important to you.

DEAR AMY: About five years ago, my husband of 15 years left me and moved on to a relationship with another woman. After the split, I found out that he had cheated on me a few times during our marriage. The split hit me hard, and I went through a depression for which I got counseling. Despite this, we have remained on fairly friendly terms. We have three children together.

He was injured on the job recently and is off work for six weeks. Shortly after his injury, he told me via text message that his girlfriend was leaving him. He suggested that we sit down and discuss what went wrong with our relationship (something he refused to do when we first split up). He said he wanted to try to mend some bridges, so to speak. He also implied that maybe we could eventually become “more” than friends.

I don’t know how to take this. On the one hand, part of me still loves the guy and would love to get back together, but you know the saying “Once bitten, twice shy.”

Do I really want to go through that heartache all over again? “Once a cheater, always a cheater,” I think. All the same, I am so confused! Help! -- Dazed and Confused

DEAR DAZED: This is your opportunity to finally take the wheel of the runaway metaphor otherwise known as your ex-husband.

He is laid up. He is bored. He wants to feel good. Who knows, maybe he needs someone to pick up some groceries for him or grab him a beer from the fridge.

Definitely mend any bridges in need of repair. But do so over coffee, and from across the room. This is a guy who doesn’t want to be alone.

DEAR AMY: The letter from “Concerned Parent” prompted me to write. This parent’s son was extremely slow to perform tasks.

This boy sounds like me when I was his age. I was a below-average student until I took physics in high school. I got an A without much studying.

After flunking a couple of subjects in college, I enlisted in the Air Force with exceptional scores in electronics and mechanics. I rose to the top of the class and received outstanding achievement awards. While a student, I competed with instructors. I have achieved great success over the course of my long career.

I believe the key is that I was presented with something that caught my interest and made sense. Traditional education seems to follow a one-size-fits-all pattern. The task of parents, educators and counselors is to uncover the child’s interests and help him explore. Who knows, he may be another Einstein! -- Been There

DEAR BEEN THERE: Or another you — which would also be an achievement.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

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