DEAR ABBY: I would like to pass on some information that came to me via a 14-year-old.
I bought a gun because I travel long distances alone. I called the police to ask them the best way to travel with a gun without getting in trouble with the police. They instructed me to put the clip in the trunk of my car and the gun itself on the seat beside me.
I was telling a friend about this and remarked that if I got into trouble, the gun would be useless. Her 14-year-old son spoke up and said, ''No, there's a bullet still in the chamber even after the clip is removed.'' I asked my father if this was true, and he confirmed it. He removed the clip from my gun and instructed me to go outside and pull the trigger. I did, and it did, indeed, have a bullet in the chamber!
I have often wondered how people could shoot themselves while cleaning a gun. I had no idea that when the clip was removed, a gun could still be loaded. I wonder how many hunters are aware of this. I thought I'd pass this along. Perhaps it could save someone's life. -- DEBRA IN OKLAHOMA CITY
DEAR DEBRA: I am not particularly knowledgeable about guns, so I called the Los Angeles Police Department to inquire. Officer Rodriguez, with whom I spoke, informed me that one should always assume the gun is loaded, and a shell does remain in the chamber when the magazine is removed -- unless it, too, is removed. That's an important warning for inexperienced gun owners.
DEAR ABBY: You recently printed a letter encouraging letters of honest praise to often-overlooked workers. Sometimes, but not often enough, I try to do that.
A few years back, I tried to think of the most underpraised group of workers that I could sincerely compliment. So, I took a picture of our minimally dented 20-year-old metal garbage can sitting at its usual clean spot at the curb. I sent an 8-by-10 color print along with a complimentary letter to the head of sanitation for the city of Dallas. They have obviously been in operation for decades, and they have hundreds of employees who are often maligned for spilled trash, noise, etc.
A few days later, I received a letter in response. It said something like this: ''Thanks very much for your complimentary letter. It causes a bit of a problem. We don't know where to file it. It's the first that we have ever received.'' -- KARL SOUTHWARD, NEMO, TEXAS
DEAR KARL: Your letter proves there's a first time for everything. Now clip this column and send it to the head of sanitation for the city of Dallas with a note: ''How about filing it under 'C' for compliments? A letter like the one you received from me is a keeper!'' (I'll bet they receive a dozen clippings of this column!)
DEAR ABBY: I read with interest the letter in which Ernest A. Schichler Sr. described how hospital visitors subject patients to stress. I, too, have seen this.
My father had a stroke that partially paralyzed him. While he was in the hospital recovering, his many friends came to wish him well. He could barely talk because of the paralysis, so they talked among themselves. At one point, he called me to the bedside and, speaking with great difficulty, said, ''Tell them to leave. They're talking about the high price of funerals.'' -- KELLY MCDONOUGH, HURST, TEXAS
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