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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I work with my brother-in-law. While routinely going over his telephone bill, I noticed there were recurring calls to the same telephone number made only on weekends and after work hours -- all charged to my brother-in-law's private office line. Being suspicious, I called the number myself, and a woman answered!

I confronted my brother-in-law and told him either to tell my sister about this woman he has been calling -- or I would. Well, he acted like I was crazy for even suggesting there was any impropriety.

I figured if I was really wrong in my suspicions, then he would tell my sister what I had accused him of, but so far she hasn't mentioned anything about it, and he has been overly nice to me.

Should I sit and watch this go on, or tell my sister of my suspicions? Or should I just keep checking the telephone bills? Meanwhile, I can barely stand the sight of my brother-in-law, and I can hardly look my sister in the eye. -- KEEPING COOL

DEAR KEEPING COOL: Keep your mouth shut and your nose out of your brother-in-law's business. As an employee, you may be privy to bills and confidential information, but until you KNOW something, you are only guessing.

DEAR ABBY: Re a recent letter in your column concerning a convicted felon's right to vote: While it is true (as you said) that a felon may not vote while he is serving time, ex-felons can vote -- at least they can in California. Being an ex-felon myself, I know how embarrassing it can be to reveal that one is an ex-felon. Thus, many ex-felons do not ask if they may register to vote after their sentences are up. Many believe that they have forever lost their right to vote, which is not true.

Ex-felons can vote, take out loans, and even become lawyers in many places. Please make this clear. -- A LOYAL READER, SACRAMENTO

DEAR READER: Thank you for making it clear that after convicted felons have served their time, they regain their right to vote in California.

DEAR ABBY: From time to time you print letters about some small act of human kindness. I submit the following:

A little over a year ago, my husband, a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps, was leaving to spend a year away from his family. This was a very difficult time for us. His flight left from San Francisco, so my brother (who lives in the Bay area), met my husband at the airport and took him out for a real nice dinner before putting him on the plane.

While they were enjoying their dinner, the waitress came up to them and informed them that a gentleman a few tables away had already paid for their meals! Neither my brother nor my husband knew this man. When the anonymous benefactor stood up to leave, my husband stood up, walked over to him, shook his hand and thanked him.

The man replied, "Thank YOU, Marine!" -- SANDRA GALLAGHER, MATHER A.F.B., CALIF.

WORTH REMEMBERING: "'It is the nature of man,' Machiavelli wrote five centuries ago, 'to feel as much bound by the favors they do as by those they receive.' While people are eternally forgetful of favors done for them, they rarely forget the favors they have done others." -- Christopher Matthews (from Forbes magazine)

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