Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Although I have read your column for many years, I am not sure that this topic has ever been addressed.

Why are people so careless when opening their car doors? I don't know how many times I've witnessed people carelessly opening their car door, only to let it slam into the car next to them. Not only do they leave very noticeable dents on other people's cars, I'm sure they can be damaging their own car doors.

I have taught my two small children never to let the door hit the car next to ours. I'm hopeful this message will make people stop and think the next time they open their car doors.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. You may use my name. -- LYNDA GOVEDNIK, MINOOKA, ILL.

DEAR LYNDA: People who open the doors to their vehicles, allowing them to strike the cars parked next to them, are thoughtless and inconsiderate. And they rarely expect to be caught. I put them in the same class as shoppers who allow their grocery carts to scrape or "ding" cars in the parking lot. The only consolation is the knowledge that, in most cases, what goes around comes around. But it's small consolation, and never soon enough.

DEAR ABBY: The letters you printed from people sharing memories of President Harry Truman delighted me. May I add my own:

I was 10 years old. It was summer, and I was visiting my aunt and uncle, who happened to live just a mile west of the Truman Library in Independence, Mo. One afternoon they took me for a tour. To top it off, we walked around to the northwest side of the building where the former president's office was.

To our amazement, there he stood with his chauffeur, getting ready to leave in the biggest, shiniest black car I had ever seen. Instead of leaving, he greeted me, told his driver to unlock his office, and invited us inside for a visit! My only regret is that none of us had a camera.

Mr. Truman sat me down with him at his huge desk and told me I reminded him of his daughter, Margaret, because of my long blond hair and blue eyes. I was spellbound, to say the least. Then I noticed his big, black piano, and he asked me if I could play. I told him yes, and he insisted that I play something for him. I told him my favorite piece was the U.S. Marine Corps Hymn because my brother had joined and I had practiced long and hard on it. Mr. Truman said, "Play away!" Believe it or not, I made it through the whole hymn without missing a chord.

Today my husband and I live only 16 miles from Truman's birthplace, Lamar, Mo. I have visited it often and have shown it to every out-of-town visitor we've had.

I will always treasure the memory of one of America's most important men, a U.S. president who made time for an awestruck 10-year-old from southeast Kansas. -- JEANNE ECCHER, LAMAR, MO.

DEAR JEANNE: Thank you for sharing your heartwarming encounter with Harry Truman. And you didn't have to pony up a dime for it. My, how times have changed!

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600