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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Feels Invisible When Dining Out With Husband

DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from a woman who told you her pet peeve was that when she and her friends went to restaurants, they were addressed as "you guys" by the servers.

Now let me share my pet peeve: What really frosts me is the way some waiters address only my husband. They greet only him when we arrive, and thank only him when we leave. Apparently I am invisible! If they don't value my business, why should I give it to them? -- LORRAINE IN FORT COLLINS, COLO.

DEAR LORRAINE: No law says you must. The servers you describe must be using an outdated etiquette book. Their behavior harkens back to the days when males were presumed to be sole providers, expected to pay the tab, and often placed the food order for their companions so the fragile little things wouldn't have to bother speaking to the person taking the order. (In some establishments, women were handed separate menus with no prices listed because the very mention of money was vulgar.)

Because you rightly feel that you have been treated rudely, have a word with the manager of the restaurant and explain that you won't be eating there again because you were not made to feel welcome. Then take your business elsewhere.

DEAR ABBY: A few years ago I was assisting with a local talent show and received a handwritten note from a parent expressing how much her child enjoyed being in the show and that she appreciated my efforts. It was unexpected and brightened my day.

I decided I would try to find someone to thank whenever possible, and have since mailed many little notes. I wrote to thank my daughter's bus driver for being kind, prompt and safe all year. I contacted a store manager to compliment him on a cashier who was exceptionally helpful and cheerful.

I hear so many people complain, sometimes misdirecting their anger at whoever is in their path. Impatient drivers sound their horns relentlessly. Neighbors threaten to sue each other. Enough, already! The power of a thank-you note goes beyond good manners. It's a great pick-me-up to receive a little thank-you now and then. -- GRATEFUL NOTE WRITER, BRECKSVILLE, OHIO

DEAR GRATEFUL: Thank you for writing. It's interesting that what started you penning thank-you notes was receiving one. Most people cultivate this social skill because they were taught to do so by a parent.

Thank-you notes do not need to be long or fancy, and should reflect one's spontaneous reaction for someone making an effort on your behalf -- giving exceptional service, entertaining you or treating you to a meal, or upon receipt of a gift. It can be simple: "The dinner was delightful, the company even more so. Thank you for including me." Or: "The gift is beautiful. Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of your thoughtfulness and generosity. Thank you!" A sentence or two can be more eloquent than a paragraph.

DEAR ABBY: My friend "Patti" always brags to me about how many guys try to talk to her. When she tells me, sometimes I change the subject and act as if I don't hear her -- mainly because I'm not in a relationship right now, and I can't possibly be happy for her when things are so bad for me. Am I being a bad friend? -- FEELING GUILTY IN NORTH CAROLINA

DEAR FEELING GUILTY: Because you're not getting the kind of attention you crave at the moment shouldn't mean you're not happy for Patti. But for her to gloat about her embarrassment of riches while you're starving for attention is immature and not very nice, either. From where I sit, neither one of you is being a particularly supportive friend to the other.

Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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