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by Abigail Van Buren

Desire to Comfort Widower Goes Beyond Friendship

DEAR ABBY: May I pass on some information that may be helpful to your readers? I work at a mail-processing center.

Some people use the self-addressed envelopes sent to them by businesses and organizations for other purposes. These envelopes have bar codes on them. When people recycle them, they cross out the organization's name and address but forget to cross out the bar code. Therefore, the envelope gets sent to the business that provided it, rather than to the party to whom it has been readdressed.

Sometimes this happens even after the bar code has been blackened out. We have received tax payments, personal letters, credit card payments -- you name it. We do return this mail to the post office, but I am sure it takes a while for it to get to the correct address. I feel bad for people having to endure the delay this causes.

My advice: If you must use these envelopes, please make sure you completely cover up or black out the original bar code. -- TRYING TO HELP IN ILLINOIS

DEAR TRYING TO HELP: You are helping. I am sure many of my thrifty readers will thank you for the heads-up.