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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Fears Workman With Key May Not Be on the Up and Up

DEAR ABBY: We had a repairman in our home yesterday who needed to leave to go to the hardware store for a part. My wife told him: "I have to go to pick up my son, so here's my spare key. Let yourself back in."

Abby, we do not know this man from Adam! He easily could have copied our key -- he was going to the hardware store, after all -- and returned to burglarize our home, or worse. We have three young children.

I realize my wife was in a tough spot. I know I should have more faith in the goodness of humanity, but I feel she put our family at risk. I'm considering having my locks changed. Your thoughts on the matter would be much appreciated. -- PROTECTIVE IN LIVERMORE, CALIF.

DEAR PROTECTIVE: You should not have a repairman in your home at any time unless the person is licensed, bonded, and you have checked his references. If, heaven forbid, a home is burglarized, the owners should tell the police about any "stranger" who has been on the premises. And if you would sleep better at night knowing you had changed the locks as a precaution, then that's what you should do.

DEAR ABBY: I know thank-you notes are in order for wedding gifts, graduation presents and special anniversary gifts -- but can the practice be overdone?

A woman in our group, "Bev," delights in sending thank-you notes for every little thing. She means well, but it makes the rest of us feel awkward.

Example: One day she dropped by as I was preparing a tuna sandwich for lunch, so I offered her one. We ate them on paper plates with a cup of tea. A few days later, a thank-you note arrived, which surprised me.

Abby, neither my mother nor I have ever sent or expected thank-you notes for casual visits. We're a group of older ladies who are just pleased to have friends who gather for lunch on birthdays or help each other out with small favors. We see and talk to each other often.

I don't want to offend Bev and will reply in kind to her, but have told others a simple thank you in person or a phone call will suffice for me. They agree. What do you think? -- GOOD FRIENDS IN ARIZONA

DEAR GOOD FRIEND: Because Bev may not be aware of your feelings on the subject, I think you should also tell HER that in the future a simple thank you in person or a phone call will suffice.

DEAR ABBY: I have a question I can't ask of anyone but you. I am 84 years old, and I have been a widow for 10 years. I worked as a secretary all my life.

I am torn about accepting requests from a man I used to work for to "come and visit" him. This is not an invitation for a date -- dinner, a movie, a drive. It's nothing but "a visit."

This happened before when I was divorced and living alone. The "visit" consisted of hugging, kissing and sex. That's all. It made me feel cheap.

Although I would love to be kissed and hugged by a man as handsome as George Clooney, I feel he is trying to use me. There is never any mention of a "date." Please hasten your reply and tell me how I should handle this. -- FEELING USED IN BELLEVILLE, ILL.

DEAR FEELING USED: The next time "Prince Charming" calls and asks you to pay a house call, smile into the receiver (which will make your tone warmer and friendlier) and tell him you'd be "delighted" to see him -- when he picks you up, takes you to dinner or a movie or even for a drive. And stick to your guns.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)