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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I live in a quiet bedroom community that is mostly occupied by families with teen-agers who are starting to drive and have cars of their own. Many of these families are unable to park their cars in their garages because the garages are full of accumulated items they are storing (not cars), so the cars are now flowing onto the streets.

My problem: The space in front of my house has now become a temporary storage place for unused cars.

When I return from work at the end of the day, I often notice that there are no cars on the street except for two that are parked in front of my house. It's not unusual for the cars to be left two or three days. There is room in front of the neighbors' house to park, and I don't know why they don't park there. There have been times when a neighbor has left town for a holiday and left a car in front of my house for three weeks.

As a result, when my friends come over to visit, they end up having to park down the street.

I don't think I can wait another two or three years until these teen-agers fly the coop. What is the neighborhood etiquette for parking cars? -- FRUSTRATED HOMEOWNER

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Your young neighbors have no way of knowing that they are causing you a problem unless you tell them. Be diplomatic, but let them know that leaving their cars parked in front of your home prevents your guests from having easy access to your property. If that doesn't resolve the problem, a word to their parents would be the next step.

DEAR ABBY: At the post office today, I noticed a little girl who appeared to be about 3 years old. She was running around with a ballpoint pen sticking out of her mouth. I'm old enough to know that if you take chances, the worst can happen, so I approached the child's mother.

"It's none of my business," I said, "but something tragic could happen if your daughter tripped and fell with that pen in her mouth."

The mother said, "I know, but I also know my daughter and I'm willing to take that chance." She might as well have said, "Mind your own business."

A short time later, I was in the grocery store. A young woman left her purse (which wasn't zipped) in her shopping cart and walked away for a moment. I wanted to tell her that it was a very risky thing to do, but because of the earlier incident I said nothing. Was I wrong? -- OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER

DEAR OLD ENOUGH TO KNOW BETTER: Many people appreciate a polite reminder when they are displaying a lapse in common sense. The attitude of the mother in the post office was inexcusable. But I'm sure the woman in the grocery store would have preferred that you mentioned her unguarded handbag rather than see someone running off with it. As long as you're polite and not meddlesome, I see no harm in speaking up.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to offer this suggestion to any single who would like to beat the holiday blues.

Don't deny yourself the pleasure of your own company. If, despite your best efforts, you anticipate being alone on a holiday, make plans to go out and do something you enjoy.

Being alone can offer surprising dividends. Although the company of friends is pleasant, solitude can enable you to experience things in a more focused manner. -- SAN ANTONIO SINGLE ROSE

DEAR ROSE: I agree. "Alone" and "lonely" are not synonymous. A wise individual makes the most of the moment.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby's "Keepers," P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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