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by Abigail Van Buren

Shower Invitations Create Sticky Problem for Honoree

DEAR ABBY: I am almost 15. A few days ago, something happened that made me see what a spoiled, selfish, vain brat I have become.

My mother was giving me a ride to my boyfriend's house. She and I were laughing and joking. As we turned to go down a hill, I saw an overweight man, who appeared to be in his early 40s, riding his bicycle up the steep hill. The bike was practically stationary. However, instead of getting off and walking, he just kept pedaling.

I took one look, pointed my finger at him and laughed. Hard. He turned and looked right at me. I will never forget the look of determination on that man's face.

My heart sank into my stomach. I knew what I had done was cruel.

I still feel terrible for what I did. I give up on a lot of things, but this determined man did not. He changed my life forever. I'm determined never again to stereotype anyone. I would like to find this man and apologize. He is not a quitter. He is the kind of person other people should strive to become. -- SORRY TEEN IN PORT EWEN, N.Y.

DEAR SORRY TEEN: You're absolutely right. People who persevere in the face of adversity are to be admired and emulated because they usually achieve their goal.

You have a lot to thank that man for, because what you observed about him -- and yourself -- has helped you to take a giant step toward maturity.