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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently transferred to a new office, and I have never seen so many people who are experts on what should or shouldn't be done. They post signs everywhere: "Do Not Move Coffeepot While Coffee Is Brewing," "Do Not Use This Door Except for Emergencies," "Do Not Throw This or That Into the Garbage," "Do Not Use This Ice Tray," etc.

I would never have the gall to put up a sign every time someone did something of which I disapproved. Am I wrong to be offended? I come in every day to find that something I have done is not right according to somebody else's rules, and a big sign has been posted saying, "Do Not Do This or That."

These people are not bosses. Why do they think they have the right to make up rules for everyone else to follow? -- SICK OF SIGNS, BIRMINGHAM, ALA.

DEAR SICK OF SIGNS: Don't be so quick to take offense. You are the newcomer in an office where the style of communication may not be yours, but it is the established style. If the signs are not posted specifically at your desk, don't take them personally -- they are probably not intended only for you. They are meant to help the staff learn office procedures without confronting anyone directly and causing hurt feelings.

DEAR ABBY: Thanks to you, I am now $1,000 richer because of the advice you gave to the lady who wrote saying she had lent $1,000 to a friend 20 years ago. She wondered if her friend had forgotten the debt, and she could use the money now. She asked if you felt it was appropriate to remind her friend about the debt.

You replied, "By all means, you have nothing to lose, and you could be $1,000 richer."

I cut out your column and sent it to the old friend who borrowed the $1,000 from me more than 30 years ago. A check and a nice letter arrived by return mail!

I hope the lady who wrote you was as lucky as I was. Thank you, Dear Abby. Your column is priceless. -- GRATEFUL IN ARIZONA

DEAR GRATEFUL: No need to thank me -- that's what I'm here for. I'm pleased to know your efforts were rewarded.

DEAR ABBY: I am enclosing something I think might give you and your readers a chuckle. By the way, I am nearly 83 years old. -- MARIA JOAN SMITH, GRANTS PASS, ORE.

DEAR MARIA JOAN SMITH: I agree - it's cute. And regardless of denomination, there's something in it for almost everyone. Read on:


During a recent ecumenical gathering, a secretary rushed in shouting, "The building is on fire!"

The METHODISTS gathered in the corner and prayed.

The BAPTISTS cried, "Where is the water?"

The QUAKERS quietly praised God for the blessings that fire brings.

The LUTHERANS posted a notice on the door declaring the fire was evil.

The ROMAN CATHOLICS passed the plate to cover the damage.

The JEWS posted symbols on the doors hoping the fire would pass.

The CONGREGATIONALISTS shouted, "Every man for himself!"

The FUNDAMENTALISTS proclaimed, "It's the vengeance of God!"

The EPISCOPALIANS formed a procession and marched out.

The CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS concluded that there was no fire.

The PRESBYTERIANS appointed a chairperson who was to appoint a committee to look into the matter and submit a written report.

The secretary grabbed the fire extinguisher and put the fire out.

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