Must a lonely life be his sentence for crime?

Posted: April 12, 2013

D EAR ABBY: I'm a 50-year-old man who is serving time for robbery in West Virginia. Every day I wake up acting as if I am in control and don't have a care in the world. The truth is, I'm scared, lonely and feel totally helpless. All my life I have lived on the dark side of the street, taking for granted the values in life and the love so many people tried to give me.

Two failed marriages and several relationships with good women are over because of my determination to follow an unhealthy dream, not to mention all the friends I have lost as well.

Now, as I look around me, there's no one there. No one to love and no one to love me. I never knew that chasing that dream would cost me everyone I ever loved.

I know I have made bad choices in life. I deserve the time for the crime I committed. But am I also sentenced to a world of loneliness? Can I ever be loved again and be happy after all the wrong I have done? Is there someone out there who would be willing to give me a chance? Is it too late to start over?

Abby, I am just hoping you have an answer for me.

- Serving Time

DEAR SERVING TIME: It is never too late to start over. With penitence comes redemption. Because of your criminal record you may have to work harder to gain trust, but I promise that if you're willing to work at it, it can be done.

DEAR ABBY: I want to use good manners, and a "You're welcome" or "Have a nice day" is a pleasing reply to hear.

What I do not like is a "No problem" reply to a "Thank you." It does not seem like a sincere response to me. In fact, it sounds like I was expected to be a problem and just happened not to be one. Any thoughts on this?

- Arkansas Lady

DEAR ARKANSAS LADY: You may not like hearing it, but you had better get used to it. While "You're welcome" may be more gracious, saying "No problem" reflects a generational shift in the vernacular. And while it may seem jarring, it is intended to be a polite response, so accept it graciously.

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