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DEAR ABBY: I have a step tracker. I am dedicated to getting in at least 10,000 steps every day, most of them walking around inside my office building at lunch. I walk quickly, often with headphones on. My problem is, I'm constantly confronted by people who stop me wanting to chat.

I honestly don't have time to talk to these people because I need my steps. My exercise is important to me. Furthermore, lunchtime is my time to be alone and de-stress before returning to the workday.

I don't think I should have to leave the premises to walk. Staying in the building ensures that I have the entire hour to walk in air-conditioned comfort.

How can I politely tell these people I don't have time to talk? I've said, "Sorry. I need to get my steps!" only to get confused looks and questions about what I mean and how the tracking works, which sets me back by precious minutes. Any advice? -- GETTING TO STEPPING IN AUSTIN

DEAR GETTING: Yes. All you have to say is, "This is my time to exercise," and keep walking. Eventually, word will get around, and you'll have fewer interruptions. Your mistake may be in mentioning "10,000 steps."


DEAR ABBY: I never expected to be writing to you, but I am frustrated. My husband, who is a great guy, sniffles constantly. He gets very annoyed with me when I call it to his attention and says I should just get used to it.

He does it at home and in the car. He doesn't have a cold or a runny nose. I notice when we are out socially, he doesn't sniffle the entire time. I have tried to ignore it, but frankly it's the most irritating sound.

I read recently that there are three top irritating sounds, and sniffling is one of them. I showed the article to my husband, but he shrugged it off. I usually know how to handle situations, but I'm stumped with this one. Hope you don't think my letter is nothing to sniff at. -- MISERABLE IN MASS.

DEAR MISERABLE: If your husband hasn't discussed this with his doctor, he should. It's possible that he has a chronic sinus condition or allergies, and his problem could be easily corrected. It could also be a nervous habit. However, there is no chance that the sniffling will stop unless he's willing to seek treatment. I wish you luck in convincing him.


Romance Reader Is Missing Out in Real Life

DEAR ABBY: I'm a 23-year-old girl who is still a virgin. I haven't had a real kiss or dated, either. My mom and friends think it's because I read a lot of romance novels and imagine something like that happening to me. Are they right? Will I ever find love? -- HOPELESS ROMANTIC

DEAR HOPELESS ROMANTIC: You probably will find love eventually. However, before you can do that, you will first have to spend less time reading and more time meeting men and making friends, and stop expecting them to live up to your fantasies.

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