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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: It infuriates me when people write to you to complain about how cheap some people are when it comes to tipping.

I am one of those cheap tippers. Let me explain.

My husband is a firefighter. Who tips him? Nobody! After he has risked his life to save others, their pets or personal belongings, do you think the city or the victim hands him $50 and says, "Thanks for a job well done"? Never! After he has pulled a drunk from a car wreck at 3 a.m., do you believe someone will tip him or the police officers? They won't.

Does my husband expect a tip? No.

Abby, I know hairdressers who make more money than my husband does, so I say let's put an end to the tipping debate. My advice to hairdressers is, "Get over it and be happy with what you receive." -- TIRED OF TIPPING IN INDIANA

DEAR TIRED OF TIPPING: Firefighters and police officers may not receive monetary tips, but recognition and rewards are not as rare as you may believe. I have known of celebrations to honor local heroes, as well as money drives to benefit fire and police departments, and the families of these public servants.

Not all people in the beauty business are salaried. Most of them need their tips to achieve and maintain a decent standard of living.

P.S. If you had signed your name, you'd be wearing a "Mohawk" for life.

DEAR ABBY: It has always disturbed me that in the white culture, women fear old age and want to look younger.

In our Native American culture, one is given a birth name; but at age 13, young men are sent out into the woods for four days to fast until they see their "vision," at which time they return and describe it to the medicine man. Then they are given their adult names.

After age 50, one is considered an "elder" of the nation or tribe, and a ceremony is held where we are given our "elder name." When individuals become elders, they are highly respected for their wisdom and are taken care of by our people as long as they live. I am proud to be an "elder" of my tribe. I don't dye my hair because pure white hair is growing in; I'm proud to be getting elderly.

We don't send our elderly off to convalescent homes or hospitals and forget about them because they're old and senile and too much trouble to deal with. We take care of them and listen to their traditional stories, which we pass on to our children and grandchildren. We have a strong spirit for our people, especially our old people.

Too bad white people don't look at life as stages, and death as a transformation to a beautiful spiritual life -- forever.

I am married to a great hereditary chief related to Chief Greylock, so I am a princess by title. May the Great Spirit walk with you and give people the wisdom of what it means to be elderly. -- PRINCESS SHEILA RUNNING WATER, PROUD ELDER OF THE WABANAKI NATION, GREAT SACRED FALLS, VT.

DEAR PRINCESS SHEILA: At the risk of generalizing, many individuals of various races regard their lives as "stages." And they'd prefer to postpone the last stage as long as possible. Entire industries have been built upon this principle.

DEAR ABBY: One more gripe from a senior citizen. Mine concerns having a mammogram.

As I stand there with my bare breasts hanging down to my waist, my silver hair glistening in the bright light, the X-ray technician asks me, "Are you pregnant?" -- D.M.K. IN LARGO, FLA.

DEAR D.M.K.: If you take into account the fact that a 64-year-old woman recently gave birth to a child through the miracle of hormone therapy and in vitro fertilization, I think that's not an unfair question.

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