DEAR ABBY: We rented a car while we were on vacation. Most of the newer cars have all kinds of high-tech equipment and devices -- different kinds for different models of vehicles. The problem is the instruction booklets that describe how the equipment operates are never provided with the cars.
It's dangerous to try and figure out how the equipment operates by trial and error while starting to drive an unfamiliar vehicle. Why don't the rental agencies provide the instruction manuals, or at least a pamphlet summarizing the procedures? Surely not many people would steal them, since they're just using the cars for a short time.
Also, it would be helpful if the rental agencies would include an inexpensive ice scraper with every car in appropriate areas of the country, so customers could clean their windshields and avoid the hazard of obstructed vision. -- CAR RENTER IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.
DEAR CAR RENTER: What you're describing is also true with loaner cars that are offered when a vehicle is being serviced. I am pretty sure the reason those items are not provided is fear that they would be stolen.
However, I agree that knowing how to operate the radio, heating, air-conditioning and street map functions on the newer cars can be confusing -- which is why you should ask to have the pertinent pages of the manual photocopied so you can refer to them as needed. (The technologically inclined can Google the make of car and ask "How to turn on the radio," etc. because the information is available online.)
DEAR ABBY: My best friend died from the flu in November. She was only 63 and had been my friend for 23 years. She died because she was stubborn and insisted to all her friends -- myself included -- that she was "fine" and didn't need to see a doctor or go to the emergency room.
We had all threatened to come and drag her to the doctor or the ER or call 911, but because she insisted she was getting better, we took her word for it. Now we're kicking ourselves for not getting her the help she obviously needed.
Abby, please tell your readers that when a friend or family member is sick enough to cause this kind of concern, to ignore the person and get her (or him) to a doctor! I will miss my friend every day for the rest of my life because I can no longer call to say good morning. Her name was Abby, too, and she was the best friend I've ever had. -- DEVASTATED IN TARZANA, CALIF.
DEAR DEVASTATED: I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. But none of you should blame yourselves for what happened to her. She made an unwise choice.
It is not unusual for people who experience serious symptoms to go into a state of denial ("Let's wait," "It will pass," etc.). But unless your friend was experiencing extreme respiratory distress or an unusually high fever, she might have recovered from that virus without intervention.
P.S. I can't help but wonder if your friend got her flu vaccination last fall when they started being offered. While it's not 100 percent effective for everyone, it is effective in many people. I get one every year, and it's worth discussing with your doctor.
A THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, COURTESY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN: "He who falls in love with himself will have no rivals."
What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)