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DEAR ABBY: When I was 12, my family moved to New Jersey. It was a difficult time in my life. Lucky for me, I made a best friend across the street, "Janie." We spent all our time together. I loved being at her house because it was a happy one, unlike my own home. (My mom was erratic and unhappy, and it affected our whole family.)
A year later, Janie learned her family would be moving to Ohio. I was devastated. The day the moving truck came, Janie and I were inseparable. The driver was a young man in his 20s named Randy.
When Janie and her family left in their car, I sat on the curb outside my house sobbing. When the loading crew finished, Randy started the truck, then turned off the engine. He got out and came and sat beside me on the curb and told me how someday my pain would lessen.
He said I was a special person, and shared a little about his own family who was far away. Then he took a ring off his finger and said he wanted me to have it. It was a Marines ring his grandfather had given to him. He insisted I take it, gave me a hug and drove off.
When I went into my house and my mother saw the ring, she said, "What did you do to get THAT?" It made me feel dirty and I didn't understand why. So I sent the ring to Janie and asked her to please return it to Randy, which she did.
In the years that have followed, that man's generosity and compassion have stayed with me. It helped me to believe in myself when things in my family seemed dark. Since then, when I have seen people who were hurting, I have tried to do what Randy did - make them feel better.
Sadly, I have never known how to find him to thank him. Randy: Wherever you are, please know how much of a difference your kindness made in my life.
- Still grateful in Texas
DEAR STILL GRATEFUL: You are living proof that what goes around comes around. One simple act of kindness made an impact on your life, but you have multiplied it many times over by continuing to pass it on.
DEAR ABBY: When setting someone up for a date, do you think it is important to share the person's race? My friends and I have no problem with interracial relationships, but other people, unfortunately, sometimes do. I would hate to put someone in a situation where a date rejected him/her or is rude because of race.
Our friend "Jena" set up a girlfriend, "Joan," who is Chinese, on a date with a white man. Joan knew what the man looked like and was fine with it, but when Jena showed the man a picture of Joan (who is gorgeous), he made an excuse and backed out. We hate to think what he may have said to Joan if he'd gone into the date "blind."
What do you think, Abby? We dislike prejudice, but we want to avoid hurting anyone in the future.
- Colorblind in Melbourne, Australia
DEAR COLORBLIND: When arranging a blind date, the usual practice is to give each party as much information about the other as possible. Because it's part of the "package" you're offering, race should be mentioned to prevent any surprises.
However, you may have drawn the wrong conclusion about the man in this case. Has it occurred to you that he may have backed out because Joan is so gorgeous that he was intimidated? Many beautiful women have complained about having this problem.
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.