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by Abigail Van Buren

Friendly Handshake Can Spread Unfriendly Germs

DEAR ABBY: The standard form of greeting in the West is a handshake. But this can lead to transmission of germs.

Being from India, I use the standard form of Indian greeting by holding my palms together, which is very hygienic. (By the way, many South Asian countries have the same custom of greeting.)

You might consider passing the word along because I'm sure your readers could understand the benefit of such a gesture -- particularly during the cold and flu season. -- SUNITHA IN KUWAIT

DEAR SUNITHA: I'm pleased to pass the word along. Your practical suggestion is a good one and something I have used myself. All you do is place your palms together, thumbs up at chest height. The friendly message it sends is clear when it's done with a smile.

DEAR ABBY: I recently landed a dream job as a nanny for a wealthy family. When I say "wealthy," it's probably an understatement. These people have a big-screen theater in their home, a personal trainer over here four times a week, matching Lexus SUVs, gadgets galore and the biggest refrigerator I have ever seen -- not to mention the countless other real estate properties they have in California, Aspen and New York.

Coming from a more consumer-conscious background, I grew up recycling and shopping at thrift stores. I use alternate forms of transportation and refuse to "keep up with the Joneses."

How do I get this family, especially the children, to recycle, donate and think globally (i.e. sweatshops and child labor) without coming off as preachy? They are nice people, but these things have never been a part of their universe. -- RECYCLIN' IN COLORADO

DEAR RECYCLIN': Your employers appear to be comfortably ensconced in their lifestyle bubble, which is an alternate reality from most of ours. However, you can positively influence the thinking of their children, and the most effective way to do it is to teach them by example.

DEAR ABBY: I discovered a video camera recording me on the toilet in my brother-in-law's bathroom. When I confronted him, he said he was trying to photograph his wife and he had "forgotten" that my four children and I were coming over. Even though the tape had been recording for an hour before his wife was due home from work, I couldn't "prove" anything, so I let it go.

More recently I have learned he's been asking a close friend of ours some very personal questions, and asking for pictures of her various body parts.

My husband doesn't want to hurt his sister and has asked me not to say anything. So now I have to have the creep over at our house for family get-togethers and pretend I like him so she doesn't ask questions. Also, my children want to sleep over at their house, and I have to keep making up excuses. What do I do? -- GOING CRAZY IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR GOING CRAZY: Your mistake -- and your husband's -- was in keeping this from your sister-in-law because it is not just her husband's problem; it is also hers. Your brother-in-law's fetish is creepy, possibly illegal and a huge invasion of privacy. Your children should not visit their home unless closely supervised by you or their father. Their safety is more important than your sister-in-law's "feelings." So speak up!

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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