I work as an administrative assistant for a company in Louisville. Each year we invite several "high- level" customers to attend the Kentucky Derby. We spare no expense on this event, paying for hotels, track tickets, food, drinks, limos, etc. for three full days.

Last year, my boss told me he was "disappointed" that I had not thought of sending thank-you notes to our guests after the event. He felt we should thank them for taking time away from their personal lives to visit us.

I say that after three days of running myself silly behind the scenes, the thank-you notes should come from them. Your opinion, please.

- Who thanks who

in Kentucky

DEAR WHO THANKS WHO: I understand your frustration because no one wants to be taken for granted, but you are confusing business etiquette with social etiquette. Your boss isn't entertaining those people because he likes them. He is doing it so they will return the favor by doing business with his company.

So please do what he says and start writing. A form letter, individually prepared for each client, should do the trick. Each one should be a signed original expressing the sentiments your boss would like to have conveyed.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Mary" for 18 months, and I was really starting to fall for her. Things were going well until three weeks ago, when she informed me that she has a serious gambling problem. She has maxed out her credit cards and has no money left in her savings. Until this point, Mary had given me the impression that she was someone I could trust and that she was in control of her life.

I am in total shock and very upset about the fact that she has misrepresented herself to me. She said she didn't want to lose me. She says that even though we're not married, every relationship has its ups and downs, and a piece of paper should not define commitment.

Some of my friends say I should never see her again as she is manipulative. Others say continuing the relationship depends on how I feel about her. While I can forgive her, I am having a problem with the issue of trust.

Abby, given the circumstances, do you feel this is someone I can trust? My gut tells me buyer beware.

- On the fence in Nevada

DEAR ON THE FENCE: Has Mary made any effort to seek help for her gambling problem? If the answer is no - and I suspect it is - then listen to your gut. Listen to your head. And if you have any doubt that they're leading you in the right direction, listen to what your lawyer and accountant have to say about the risk of pursuing this relationship further.

DEAR ABBY: Many friends approach me for advice. I want to help them. It's in my nature to be helpful. However, there are times when I'm out of advice and just want to close the door.

How can I continue to help, but also close the door without putting someone off?

- Adviser in Indiana

DEAR ADVISER: Recognize that a fountain of advice must occasionally shut down for servicing and preventive maintenance. In your case, what you're trying to prevent is burnout.

A friend will understand if you say, "I'd love to help, but I'm fresh out of ideas today - let's talk about something else."

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby - Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054- 0447. (Postage is included in the price.)