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DEAR ABBY: We have some friends who take a couple of expensive extended vacations each year. They go to Europe and take cruises. For the last four years, they have never once booked ground transportation from home to the airport and back. Instead, they rely on friends to take them to the airport.

They have plenty of money. They are just too cheap to pay for a shuttle, cab or limo. They never offer to put gas in the car or pay for the parking. It is a 45-minute drive in heavy traffic.

They are getting ready for another trip. What should I say when asked? Please give me your thoughts on their behavior. -- UNHAPPY ABOUT THIS IN GEORGIA

DEAR UNHAPPY: These friends appear to be centered on themselves. Rather than fume about it, the next time you are asked to drive them to the airport, tell them you have a conflict and are unavailable.


DEAR ABBY: I am a 47-year-old professional man who loves children, but never had any of my own. Consequently, I have never had to contend with the considerable cost of raising children. Many of my friends are parents, and I feel the urge to buy their kids nice presents I know they want, or that I never received when I was a child, e.g., a wonderful bike or train set.

What's the protocol for giving an expensive gift (e.g., a saxophone that can cost $1,000) to non-related children without creating awkwardness or obligation? Naturally, I would always check with the parents first. (All of us are white-collar executives and employed, but no one is "filthy rich.") -- GIFT GIVER IN OAKLAND, CALIF.

DEAR GIFT GIVER: The protocol is the one you are already observing, which is to have a conversation with the parents before buying expensive gifts for their children. And when you do, make clear that it is not your wish to cause awkwardness or a sense of obligation.


DEAR ABBY: I am increasingly reluctant to attend social and church events because several members of our group photograph everything and post the pictures online. My husband and I are private people, and we are uncomfortable with this. Why do people think they have the right to do this, and what can we do to stop it? -- DISCOURAGED IN THE EAST

DEAR DISCOURAGED: People post photos of themselves, their activities, their meals, etc. for a variety of reasons. Because you and your husband prefer not to be "memorialized" this way, tell the person taking the photos that you prefer to remain out of camera range -- and request that in the future, any shot you might "accidentally" be in not be posted. If the person demands to know why, say, "Because I don't want anyone from the IRS to find us."

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