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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My best friend, "Martha," works as a cleaning lady for a company that sends crews of women into homes to clean. One of the cleaning women forgot to put a remote control back on a table after dusting. The homeowner called the cleaning company, claiming the remote control was missing. The company made the crew return to the house (after work) where they found the remote lying in full view on the floor next to the table. It seems the homeowner wanted to teach the cleaning women a lesson!

Mrs. Homeowner, Martha didn't get paid for the extra hour and a half it took to get to your house and back. Her daughter was at home alone. Martha received a speeding ticket, which of course she must pay. In her frustration, she slammed the door of the company car, was reported and lost driving privileges, which paid a little extra.

Martha is in a desperate situation. She finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband and is working this crummy job to support herself and her daughter and barely makes ends meet. This pushes her further down.

The moral of this true story: Please, people, try to be more tolerant. Your actions can have profound effects on the lives of others. -- M.C. IN ROBINSON, ILL.

DEAR M.C.: Your friend's frustration is understandable -- in any business there are always a few "difficult" clients.

Perhaps it's time Martha sought a job with another cleaning company or employment in another field. Often, women thrust into the job market must start from scratch to develop skills that make them employable. (That's why I urge women to wait to marry until they have the kind of education that guarantees they can support themselves if they have to.)

Many branches of the YWCA offer a program called "Employee Preparation Services," which teaches women how to fill out job applications, set up resumes, practice job interviews, and provides traditional (clerical) as well as non-traditional job training (e.g. construction).

Although not all branches offer this program, by calling a YWCA in her area, your friend can be referred to a branch that does. Or, she can call the national toll-free information line: 1-800-YWCA-US1 (1-800-992-2871). The YWCA also offers child care, shelter and counseling.

DEAR ABBY: In a recent column, you pointed out that hitting a child teaches him that "might makes right."

It also teaches him that violence is the answer to all conflicts.

I recall the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh." -- ARTHUR H. PRINCE, MEMPHIS, TENN.

DEAR ABBY: About divorces: There's an old Irish saying, "It's better to live with the devil you know, than the devil you don't know." Good philosophy, eh? -- OLD PHILOSOPHER

DEAR PHILOSOPHER: Why live with any devil? Better to live alone if your only alternative is living with a devil.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, 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. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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