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

DEAR ABBY: A schoolmate of mine died recently. To pay respects to his family, I attended the funeral.

A large group of his friends passed me, and they reeked of marijuana. I could literally smell them from across the room. I know that they had just lost a dear friend, but I was so offended I had to leave. No one else seemed to mind but me.

Now I feel bad because I left behind my personal friends who were mourning. Is it more disrespectful to go to a funeral smelling like drugs, or to leave before the eulogy? -- GRIEVING IN MINNESOTA

DEAR GRIEVING: Going somewhere "reeking of marijuana" would qualify as extremely poor judgment. Attending an emotional event such as a funeral when stoned (or drunk) is also a mistake, because substance abuse can alter a person's perception of what is going on and lead that person to behave inappropriately. (An example that comes to mind would be a laughing jag -- during a eulogy.)

As to leaving a funeral before the eulogy, the polite way to handle it would have been to explain quietly to one or more of your sober friends why you had to go and make your exit discreetly, so as few people as possible noticed you leaving.

DEAR ABBY: As a security officer at a crowded shopping mall, I am hoping you will spread the word about a serious concern that only becomes worse during the holidays: lost children.

This is one of the happiest times of the year, but it's also one of the busiest and most stressful. Parents, please make sure to designate a central location in case your party gets separated. Also, please understand that it is imperative that a child know his or her parents' first and last names. This helps security officers page and locate you in case of emergency. Also, make sure you know pertinent information like your child's height, weight, the clothes they are wearing and the last place he or she was seen.

Remember, seconds count! Most times, a lost child is simply confused and scared, but in case of a true emergency, the more information a parent or guardian can provide, the better the chances are of a quick and happy reunion.

Also, remember these policies apply to seniors who may have cognitive problems. Thanks for your help, Abby. -- MALL COP ON A MISSION

DEAR MALL COP: I'm glad to help. I hope parents of small children will take your reminder to heart and review the information with their little ones. Sometimes knowing you are "Mommy" and "Daddy" isn't quite enough.

P.S. Readers, you can find more tips for handling these situations by logging onto � HYPERLINK "http://www.missingkids.com" ��www.missingkids.com�. It's the Web site for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

DEAR ABBY: There is an annoying woman in my office who insists on telling people to "smile." It's ridiculous -- as if she expects people to go around with permanent grins on their faces for no reason. What is a good response to people who order you to "Smile!" out of the blue? -- NOT FROWNING IN ONTARIO

DEAR NOT FROWNING: I agree, it is obnoxious to be ordered to smile on cue. The next time it happens, look the offender in the eye and say, "I AM smiling. If you want to see a smile, look in a mirror. Now leave me alone. I have work to do."

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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

More like Dear Abby