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by Abigail Van Buren

Streamlined Postal Service Slows Down Mail at Home

DEAR ABBY: Sometimes I think that the U.S. Postal Service is its own worst enemy. They came out with a five-digit ZIP code which the public finally accepted (after a lot of grumbling). But right on top of that, they reduced the state abbreviations to only two characters which makes them very, very confusing. And now, four more ZIP code digits have been added!

Abby, ask people who don't come from these nine states the following questions:

Is "MA" Maine, Maryland or Massachusetts?

Is "NE" Nevada or Nebraska?

Is "AL" Alaska or Alabama?

Is "MS" Mississippi or Missouri?

I have recently had five mailings returned by the U.S. Postal Service because the address on the envelope had no apartment number on it. If the people who gave me their address did not include an apartment number, I have to address their mail as I see it. Why put the onus on me?

People tend to ignore decisions they feel are wrong and that they had no choice in making. Maybe they hope that the rules will be modified. -- HOPEFUL IN DAYTONA BEACH

DEAR HOPEFUL: The Postal Service now uses computers to speed up mail delivery. However, the machines that scan and sort the envelopes cannot decipher them properly unless they are coded with their new two-letter abbreviations. Mail addressed using the old familiar abbreviations is automatically shunted aside to be handled by postal employees -- which slows the process.

If you have forgotten the new abbreviations for each state, a pamphlet listing them is available at your local post office. Keep it handy, and you'll be amazed at how quickly you will learn the new system.

DEAR ABBY: You ran a piece about the benefits of hugging. I believe it was in 1988. Will you please run it again? -- B. REAVES, WINTERVILLE, N.C.

DEAR B.R.: Here it is:


Hugging is healthy: It helps our body's immune system, it keeps you healthier, it cures depression, it reduces stress, it induces sleep, it's invigorating, it's rejuvenating, it has no unpleasant side effects, and hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug.

Hugging is all natural: It is organic, naturally sweet, no pesticides, no preservatives, no artificial ingredients and 100 percent wholesome.

Hugging is practically perfect: There are no movable parts, no batteries to wear out, no periodic checkups, low energy consumption, high energy yield, inflation-proof, non-fattening, no monthly payments, no insurance requirements, theft-proof, non-taxable, non-polluting and, of course, fully returnable.

Everybody has a problem. What's yours? Get it off your chest by writing to: Dear Abby, P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069. For a personal reply, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.

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