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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My 16-year-old son came home from his job working at the concession stand at a movie theater and said that a woman customer had told him he would never achieve success in life. When I asked why someone would say such a horrible thing, he replied, "She asked me for an extra empty popcorn bag, and I told her I wasn't allowed to give them out."

Don't you think that nasty woman should have taken it up with management instead of saying such a cruel thing to a kid who was just doing his job? My son happens to be hearing-impaired and also has epilepsy. He has won gift certificates for the past three consecutive months for making the most sales of all the concession workers.

My son ALREADY is a success -- in spite of her vicious mouth. What's wrong with people like this? -- PROUD OF MY KID IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR PROUD: Immaturity and cowardice. The woman was out of line to take her frustration out on your son. She didn't call the manager because she didn't have the nerve.

This world would be a better world if people only stopped and thought twice before spewing poison out on others. It takes so little effort to give someone a boost instead of a knock. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I want to address my comments to a wonderful young man who tossed a football with my dad just before Father's Day in Girsh Park in Goleta, Calif.:

My dad is 75. He played football in college, but has not played for many, many years. When he saw you and your pal tossing the football in the park, I watched him look on with envy. I asked him if he wanted to play, and he said yes. When I asked you if you'd toss the ball with him, you kindly agreed. You spent some time playing catch with him even though he can't throw the ball like he used to -- and he can't catch like he used to, either. You even assured him YOUR throwing was bad when he flubbed a catch.

Your tossing the ball with my dad meant the world to him. Not only did he talk about it all through dinner that night, but even now he talks about how he threw the ball again.

We were in the park that day for my daughter's birthday. My parents had driven up from Los Angeles to be with us as we needed to be together as a family.

What you didn't know was that Dad had been diagnosed with cancer the week before. The doctors hope to shrink the tumor before operating. Dad has now started chemotherapy and radiation and will undergo extensive surgery in a few weeks.

My mom and I are so grateful to you for stopping your own activity to spend some time with a 75-year-old man who needed it. May you always be blessed with the same kindness you showed my dad. -- GRATEFUL DAUGHTER IN SANTA BARBARA

DEAR GRATEFUL DAUGHTER: Your letter says it all. We rarely know the circumstances of the people we meet in life. My thoughts and prayers are with your father.

DEAR ABBY: I would like to send a message to the blond woman driving the black Lexus with MA plates 86V

*: "Hang up your cell phone, put down the bagel, place both hands on the steering wheel and pay attention to the road. My life and the lives of other commuters depend on it!" -- MOTORCYCLIST IN MASSACHUSETTS

DEAR MOTORCYCLIST: Your message applies to many thousands of drivers -- female and male. A distracted driver is as much of a menace as one who is under the influence or overtired.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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