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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in the hope that your readers will understand the hardship caused by the selfishness of people who show up for work when they're sick.

For many years, I worked at a company where our employer understood people's need for occasional sick days. Ample coverage was provided for such events, as well as medical insurance.

One of the men in my office with whom I was required to come in close contact never took sick time. Although he was coughing, blowing or running a fever, he came to work every day, exposing me and my fellow co-workers to his germs -- which we caught, causing us to stay home and/or see our doctors.

One such episode occurred when this man came to work with the flu. I caught it from him, and it eventually turned into pneumonia. I was five months pregnant at the time, and the extremely heavy coughing inherent with pneumonia became critical to my pregnancy. I survived, as did my baby, but I lost six weeks of work and used up all of my sick time and accumulated vacation, which was not as serious as the fear of possibly losing my baby.

When the gentleman retired after 30-plus years with the company, he was given a special award in appreciation of the fact that he had never missed a day of work. Quite a number of us were less than thrilled over his "accomplishment." We had all paid for his lack of consideration and felt the special recognition of his devotion to the company was unwarranted. Recognition that there were casualties along the way as a result of his selfishness would have been far more appropriate. -- GINNY IN RENO, NEV.

DEAR GINNY: I suspect the award was given to "Typhoid Murray" because someone in management became sentimental and didn't think through what his misplaced loyalty had cost the company in terms of sick pay and lost man-hours.

DEAR ABBY: About eight months ago, my 20-year-old nephew moved into our home. My husband and I decided at the time we wouldn't charge him rent so he could get caught up on his bills.

The problem is that without asking, he now has his 18-year-old girlfriend staying overnight at least three or four times a week. She has been showering here on occasion and has eaten here, too. She doesn't live at home, but with other people.

Abby, I don't want her staying here. I think my nephew is being disrespectful for not having asked my husband or me first. I feel they are taking advantage of us. I would like her to go home at night. Should I say anything to them or keep my mouth shut? I really don't know what to do or say. -- DOESN'T APPROVE IN ABERDEEN, WASH.

DEAR DOESN'T: Speak up! Tell your nephew exactly how you feel, and don't apologize for your feelings. They are valid. It isn't fair to complain that he isn't living by the rules if he hasn't been informed about them. Remember, silence implies consent. If you prefer not to subsidize your nephew's lifestyle, you shouldn't have to. After all, it's your house.

DEAR ABBY: What do you think of a 60ish bachelor who would serve his "love interest" an 8-day-old salad? Not only was it 8 days old, but it was in a doggie bag I had given him when he had dinner at my house! -- A FRESH TOMATO IN TUCSON

DEAR FRESH TOMATO: Your bachelor friend is frugal to a fault. Food should not be kept more than three days.

P.S. If he continues this unhealthy lifestyle, he'll be lucky to make it to 70ish.

Abby shares her favorite recipes in two booklets: "Abby's Favorite Recipes" and "Abby's More Favorite Recipes." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 per booklet ($4.50 each in Canada) to: Dear Abby Booklets, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in price.)

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