DEAR ABBY: I was very upset a couple of weeks ago, so I placed a collect long-distance telephone call to a dear friend whose advice was excellent.
When I returned home, my husband suggested I send her a check as reimbursement for the phone call. Knowing my friend, I said, "She'll never accept it." With that in mind, I sent her a thank-you note with cash enclosed to cover the amount of the call. In the note, I suggested, "You and your hubby get a triple-deck ice cream cone with the change -- for being the dear, generous people you are." (I felt it would add a light, whimsical touch to the note.)
To my dismay, my friend called and told me she had never been so insulted in her life that I'd put cash in the envelope, as she had thought our friendship was above that, and she would not hesitate to ask me for anything. I told her that she was right, but I felt uncomfortable making her pay for my phone call, and this had nothing to do with our friendship. She also mentioned that she had a refrigerator full of ice cream and did not need the money. I tried to explain that because she is so special, this was my way of saying thank you.
She still maintains that it was insulting and I was a mile out of line. Abby, was I? The one in error has promised to eat the telephone bill. -- RED IN THE FACE
DEAR RED: You were the one in error, but don't start eating yet. Perhaps your husband felt he was doing the right thing by suggesting that you insert money into a loving, friendly relationship -- but a small gift would have been better than a check or cash. HE should eat the phone bill.