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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I agreed to give a woman who lives in my apartment building a ride to her doctor's appointment. When she got into my car, I asked her in a gentlemanly manner to please fasten her seat belt. She said she never uses a seat belt because she has a phobia about being confined as the result of a very frightening childhood experience.

I then told her that I had undertaken a liability in accepting her as a passenger, and she would either have to buckle up or bail out. She snapped back, "Don't you carry insurance in case a passenger is injured?" I ignored her question and asked her to please get out of my car. She said I was no gentleman, but she reluctantly fastened her seat belt, and now I have a new enemy in the building.

Do you think I was wrong to have insisted she either buckle up or bail out? -- J.C. IN GAINESVILLE, FLA.

DEAR J.C: You were not wrong. If more drivers were as sensibly safety-conscious as you, there would be fewer "D.O.A." (Dead On Arrival) tragedies recorded.

A California state trooper said, "I have yet to unbuckle a seat belt from a dead person."

DEAR ABBY: I am the cashier at a checkout counter, and I have a few questions and comments concerning the manners of customers:

Why must you run over the person in line in front of you with your cart? The line won't move any faster if you plant your cart against someone's derriere.

Why assume that I make up the prices? The cashier is performing a service. I am not out to rob you.

Why must you leave an expensive steak or roast in the produce aisle or on a magazine rack? It wouldn't ruin my day if you handed it to me saying you didn't want it. (And you wouldn't wind up paying for it later in the form of rising food prices.)

Why will you wait two hours for a ride in an amusement park, yet get impatient if you have to wait 15 minutes in a checkout line? (People in Russia wait all day for a loaf of bread!)

And why do those who complain the loudest about long lines spend 10 minutes looking for an elusive penny, rather than break a $20 bill?

To all you wonderful people who are considerate of those around you, I thank you! Thank you for making me smile when I'm blue and keeping me laughing when my feet hurt. I see a lot of generosity and goodwill among people and it reaffirms my belief that most people are basically good.

Thank you, Abby. I needed to get that off my chest. -- ANY CHECKER, ANYTOWN, USA

CONFIDENTIAL TO "YOUR NEW READER IN PORTLAND, ORE.": True, charity begins at home, but it shouldn't end there.

Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)

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