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Dear Ann Landers: I was interested in the letter from your reader in Queens the retail clerk who complained about demanding and inconsiderate customers. Perhaps these customers are reacting to the way they are being treated in retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants and fast-food establishments.

I cannot remember the last time I was told "thank you" after handing a salesperson my money. Often, I don't even get a smile. I am generally mild-mannered and pleasant, but when I'm treated as if being waited on is an imposition, I tend to become snarly.

Please, Ann, give service people this message: If customers annoy you, perhaps you should consider another line of work.

-- K.P. in Tampa, Fla.
Dear K.P.: Your letter expresses quite candidly the sentiments of hundreds of my readers. Here's another one:

From Rochester: While the customer may not always be right, neither is the sales clerk -- but the customer is always the customer, and it's the clerk's job to put up with stupid questions and indecisiveness.

Here's the reality: I have money to spend. You, as the service provider or owner of the establishment, want my business. If I give it to you instead of your competitor, you win. Granted, customer service requires patience, a positive attitude and a thick skin. If you don't like serving people and consider them an interruption or a nuisance, go out and find another job. Within driving distance of your store, there are five stores that carry the same items. They don't mind if I browse and don't buy anything. If I am treated well, I'll be back to see you. If you want me to come back, you will thank me for coming in and make me feel welcome.

New Port Richey, Fla.: Axe the retail attitude. I've had it with arrogant, snippy retail clerks. They seldom say "thank you," and can't count change without the aid of a computerized cash register. Advertised closing time means doors close at 9 p.m. That's 9 -- not 8:45. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to a retail store 15 minutes before the advertised closing time and found the lights off and the doors locked.

The days of friendly, accommodating sales clerks are gone. Perhaps this is why online shopping is becoming so popular.

Dear New Port Richey: I wonder how many bosses will read your letter at the next meeting when customer relations are discussed. You've hit some hot buttons.

Sweet memories

Dear Ann Landers: Thank you for printing that letter about heating rice in a sock instead of using a heating pad to ease muscle pains. When I read it, I was bathed in memories of my Chinese childhood. My mother used to heat rice in a pan and add a few slices of raw ginger. She would wrap the concoction in a cloth and apply it like a poultice to ease the tightness in our chests when we had head colds. The fragrance of the heated ginger has stayed with me to this day, and it always brings me comfort. Thank you for reminding me.

-- Virginia in Bethesda, Md.
Dear Virginia: Many old-fashioned remedies, handed down from Grandma, work wonders. Grandma may not have gone to medical school, but she knew how to get people well.

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