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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am putting myself through college working nights as a server in a small, family-owned restaurant. There are only two servers working nights, and a couple of nights a week, I share my shift with "Jane."

Jane takes her table orders, then expects me to deliver the food, refill drinks, and anything else the people at her tables might need -- in addition to working my own tables.

My problem is that many of the patrons at Jane's tables directly hand me their tip, saying I deserve it more than she does. Even though I don't think Jane deserves to be tipped, I feel guilty taking the money and always end up putting it in Jane's tip jar. Also, according to our employer's policy, I could get fired for keeping the money.

To make matters worse, Jane is the boss's niece. This makes me reluctant to take the problem to him. Would it be wrong for me to tell the patrons at Jane's tables that I can't keep their tips, and leave it up to them whether they leave anything for Jane? Maybe it would force Jane to work harder. Or should I keep things "as is" and not cause trouble? -- WORKING MY WAY THROUGH SCHOOL IN INDIANA

DEAR WORKING: I have a "tip" for you. The boss's niece feels entitled, and in the interest of family unity, your boss will probably back her up. This can't be the only restaurant in town. With your experience, you are an attractive candidate for a job elsewhere. Start looking.

DEAR ABBY: My mother and I were discussing the traditional custom of tossing the bride's bouquet at my wedding two years ago. The young girl who ended up catching it was only 12. Mom had no problem with it at the time, but now she does. She says that single females trying to catch the bouquet should be of marrying age -- and the child who caught mine should never have been allowed to participate.

At most of the weddings I've attended since then, I have observed very young girls (some as young as 3) vying for the bouquet, as well as little boys scrambling to catch the bride's garter thrown by the groom. (At my wedding, the "winner" was a boy of 14.) What do you think about this, Abby? Is my mother right? -- MOTHER AND DAUGHTER IN HOUSTON

DEAR MOTHER AND DAUGHTER: Since catching a bouquet or garter is no guarantee that the person will be the next to marry (it's "up for grabs"), I see no reason why any guest should be excluded.

DEAR ABBY: I belong to two organizations whose members would love to send messages to our troops all year long. Will your Web site,, continue to be available to use all year to support the men and women in our military? -- JUDY IN FLORIDA

DEAR JUDY: Absolutely! In the past, readers have complained because Operation Dear Abby was limited to Nov. 15 to Jan. 15. is now YEAR-ROUND. All messages will be relayed to our troops via a secure military site, which means they'll be bug-free and virus-free in every sense of the word.

To receive a collection of Abby's most memorable -- and most frequently requested -- poems and essays, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Keepers Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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