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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Is Unsure When to Tell Daughter About Aunt's Suicide

DEAR ABBY: "Lila" is a lovely girl who works part-time in the administrative office of our university to help pay for her education. She has scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, which you would never guess by looking at her.

Lila's problem is she has an hour-long ride on the subway to get here, and after carrying a heavy backpack all day, standing becomes too painful. There have been times when she has given up her seat to an elderly person or a pregnant woman, but sometimes her back is so sore she simply cannot get off her seat.

What is the proper etiquette in this situation, and how should she deal with the glares she gets when she doesn't give up her seat? -- CURIOUS IN ONTARIO

DEAR CURIOUS: Your friend does not owe anyone an explanation for remaining in her seat -- and the less personal information she reveals about herself to strangers, the better. However, I do have a word of advice for her. Instead of lugging around a heavy backpack, which further stresses the muscles in her already stressed back, she should invest in a rolling bag to transport her books. It might help her to have less pain more often.