On or off the phone, keep the vol­ume low

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - ABI­GAIL VAN BUREN

DEAR ABBY: I fre­quently talk on my cell­phone in public, and I’m of­ten irked by the com­ments I get from peo­ple to put my phone away. Per­son­ally, I don’t see a dif­fer­ence be­tween a cell­phone con­ver­sa­tion and an in-per­son con­ver­sa­tion, pro­vided I keep the noise level down. It’s not like I’m talk­ing about ex­ces­sively per­sonal sub­jects or any­thing.

I spend an hour on the train go­ing to and com­ing from work, and I like to use that time to catch up with my friends. Am I wrong for con­stantly talk­ing on my cell­phone in public, or do peo­ple just need to get used to the era of mo­bile phones? — ON THE LINE IN PALO ALTO, CALIF.

DEAR ON THE LINE: It may not be what you’re do­ing, but rather how you’re do­ing it. If peo­ple “of­ten” tell you to put away your cell­phone dur­ing your com­mute, then I have news for you: You’re be­ing too loud. Also, those seated around you may not want to over­hear the de­tails of your so­cial life. A root canal can be more pleas­ant than hear­ing some­one drone on for 30, 45, 60 min­utes straight. So be mind­ful of your sur­round­ings and con­sid­er­ate of oth­ers. Whether you’re hav­ing an in-per­son con­ver­sa­tion or talk­ing on a cell­phone, the rules should be the same.

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, “Dara,” who is a sin­gle mom. From time to time she has watched my kids while my hus­band and I have trav­eled on busi­ness. For this rea­son, I have given her our garage door com­bi­na­tion. Now, ev­ery time she vis­its, she uses our garage code and walks in through our back door. She drops off items for us and lets her­self in when we’re not home, then texts me af­ter­ward about “how happy the dog was” to see her or tell me to look for some­thing she dropped off.

I have told Dara she scares me and my kids when she comes in un­ex­pect­edly. We ex­pect her to ring the door­bell like a nor­mal guest. I have made light jokes, but she hasn’t picked up on them. What she’s do­ing is rude, and I don’t un­der­stand how she can be so com­fort­able do­ing it. Do you have any ad­vice for me? — IN­TRUDED UPON IN WIS­CON­SIN

DEAR IN­TRUDED UPON: Ob­vi­ously, mak­ing “light jokes” about Dara’s in­tru­sive be­hav­ior hasn’t been enough to get your mes­sage across. That’s why the next time she walks in on you, you should tell her plainly, di­rectly and in all se­ri­ous­ness that you ex­pect her to ring the door­bell when she vis­its, and to re­frain from com­ing into your home in your ab­sence un­less she has been specif­i­cally re­quested to do so. Then, if it hap­pens again, change the code on your garage door.

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I live in a small town, so we in­vari­ably run into some­one we know when we’re eat­ing out at a res­tau­rant. If we run into peo­ple we know who al­ready have been served a por­tion of their meal (an ap­pe­tizer, salad or main course), we briefly say hello and then, “We won’t in­ter­rupt your din­ner.”

What do we say when we’re try­ing to eat and friends con­tinue to come to talk to us through­out our meal? — PREFERS TO EAT IN PEACE

DEAR PREFERS TO EAT IN PEACE: Smile warmly and say, “We’re go­ing to keep eat­ing be­cause we like our food hot. We hope you don’t mind.”

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