DEAR ABBY: Whenever I see a pregnant woman or an elderly person in line behind me who seems uncomfortable or tired, I always want to let them go ahead of me. Is this regarded as a nice gesture, or does it make them feel pathetic and helpless? I do it with the best intentions, but I don't want to offend anyone. -- RACHEL IN TENNESSEE
DEAR RACHEL: It's regarded as a thoughtful gesture. If someone feels that your deference is offensive, then he or she is free to refuse your generous offer. And if that happens -- which I doubt will happen frequently -- do not blame yourself for having extended the courtesy.
DEAR ABBY: I work in a hospital, and I'm sick and tired of people "bombing" us with their perfume/cologne at levels as suffocating as tear gas. Many patients here have breathing difficulties such as emphysema, COPD and asthma. Please have some consideration for your fellow man and stop at one squirt if you must use it at all. If we can smell you before we see you, or if we are still suffering from the perfume-induced migraine you caused long after you're gone, then you used way too much. -- HAD ENOUGH IN BIRMINGHAM, ALA.
DEAR HAD ENOUGH: You're absolutely right. When it comes to fragrances, more isn't better -- a little dab will do ya. Applying too much is not only offensive, but actually can make some well people sick and sick people sicker. And this is true not only in hospitals, but also in elevators, offices and gyms.
DEAR ABBY: You printed a letter from me on Sept. 26, 2011. It was signed "Looking for a Date -- in the Future." Thank you for printing it, and I'd like to give you an update on my life.
I now realize that men have been approaching me quite frequently, but instead of showing outright interest and asking me for a date, they ask me to "hang out" or if I'm coming over to their place -- as if they're confirming plans we never made. Because of this I have been on a few dates that I didn't realize were dates until after the fact.
But I have also been on several real dates with one particular man I'm now seeing exclusively. When I saw him, I actually took the first step and introduced myself to him instead of waiting for him to notice and approach me. I'm so glad I did because although I always hoped that soul mates exist, I was hesitant to believe that "you just know." But I do! Better yet, he does, too. He's the kindest, most thoughtful, respectful man I have ever met, and I know I'm lucky to have found him.
I feel silly and disappointed in myself for having gotten married before without feeling this way, but I'm happily learning from my mistake. I hope you'll print this so it will give others hope when it feels like there is no hope to be had. Thanks again, Abby. -- HAPPY READER IN TRIANGLE, VA.
DEAR HAPPY READER: You were sweet to write and give me an update. Not all my readers do, and it's always nice to read about happy endings. After reviewing your letter and looking back at the first one you wrote, I'm reminded that sometimes things happen when they're meant to and not before. In other words, you thought men weren't interested in you, but the truth was you weren't ready for them to be. I wish you and your special someone a happy future together.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)