Los Angeles Times

Seeking volume control

- Email questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@amydickins­on.com.

Dear Amy: What words of advice would you have for addressing someone who is in a public place having a loud and personal phone conversati­on on their earbuds (or phones in general)?

No one wants to hear it. It makes me feel awkward and uncomforta­ble.

KQ, in Kentucky

Dear KQ: I believe people yell into their cellphones while they are using earphones or earbuds because they can’t hear themselves very well because their ears are plugged by earbuds.

People tend to quickly believe that they are isolated when engaged in a private cellphone conversati­on — even in a public space.

Landlines have microphone­s in the earpiece so speakers can hear themselves. Cellphones don’t seem to use this function.

The so-called “Lombard effect” describes the human tendency to raise our voice to match the noise around us, even when unnecessar­y. Yes, this is annoying! I’d like to augment this gripe by adding an annoyance: people who use FaceTime in public. I understand that all grandparen­ts find their grandchild­ren adorable and compelling, but must they visit with these children over FaceTime at a crowded restaurant? And again with the yelling!

Listeners tend to be more annoyed by overheard phone conversati­ons than they are by overheard inperson conversati­ons. When we overhear only one side of the conversati­on, our brain can’t help but try to fill in the missing pieces.

Only once have I confronted someone doing this. I approached a man who had shared some sensitive and proprietar­y informatio­n on the phone while sitting next to me at a Starbucks. I told him I was a reporter and had been taking notes.

Other than trying to make eye contact and putting your finger to your lip in the universal “shhhhh” gesture, I don’t know how to respond to these intrusions.

Dear Amy: My friends and I are having dinner at a casual restaurant when the table next to us leaves behind a bottle of wine that is half-full.

Shall we grab it and celebrate, or leave it to the restaurant?

Dilemma in Denver

Dear Denver: If swiping wine from a nearby table after the diners have finished their meal is your idea of a true dilemma, I will guard my French fries with more than the usual ferocity the next time I dine near you.

These diners paid for this wine and it is not appropriat­e for you to decide what to do with their leftovers.

I shared your question with Meaghan Frank, vice president at the familyowne­d winery started by her great-grandfathe­r and an instructor for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

Her response: “There are several issues here, hygiene being one. Taking this wine is also not fair to the restaurant and staff. If your group decided to drink it at your table, you would be taking up the table for a longer period, preventing the restaurant from turning the table over, and likely affecting the server’s income for the night.”

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