As a leader in the national effort to tame the telephone, Miss Manners has been following the debate about the latest telephone gadget: the device that displays the telephone number of the caller, so that the person called may observe it before deciding whether to take the call.

She has found this a bewildering conflict, since people who are in vehement opposition to one another make the same argument. Those in favor say they believe in privacy and want to protect it, and those opposed say they believe in privacy and want to protect it. Miss Manners, who believes in privacy and wants to protect it, finds herself in the uncomfortable position of being on both sides.Absolutely, she declared to herself, people should have the right to know who is calling before they choose whether to answer the telephone. And absolutely, people should have the right to make telephone calls without revealing their numbers to those who will then use them to make unwanted return calls.

Fortunately, a brilliant solution that has been suggested that the equipment be made to register not the number of the caller, but the name.

Presumably, one could also enter another short identification - "Yr plumber" or "Irate neighbor."

Anyone calling a business could put "Customer" or "Query."

Those wishing to do unsolicited business by telephone could put "Opportunity" or "Poll." While it is true that a lot of people would elect not to receive such calls, the ones who did would not be as likely as the unwilling to scorch the ears of the caller.

While Miss Manners has been encouraged by the conflicting arguments for privacy, she is not convinced that people really understand how much telephone privacy they are entitled by good manners to have. The fact is that etiquette simply does not require you to take any telephone call that happens to come in, any more than it requires you to allow the whole world to drop in at your house or office.

Somehow, popular belief has turned this topsy-turvy. People who do not get on the telephone every time it rings are the ones who are being accused of bad manners, not those who demand that they do so. Miss Manners is always being asked to chastise those who use answering machines at home, or who use operators and secretaries at the office, to screen their telephone calls.

She is aware that methods of screening calls can themselves be rude. The person who keeps saying "Who?" instead of listening to the name, and the answering machine that drones on with its dreary little jokes, are a nuisance.

But it is not unreasonable to reschedule or reroute telephone calls. These are appointments and should be given their proper time, agreeable and convenient to both parties. Then they can be given both parties' full attention. No one will need to drop an actual visitor in order to take an electronic one, and best of all, no one will need Call Waiting, which Miss Manners has no ambiguity about at all.

She loathes it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS - Most sandwiches served by restaurants are cut in half. The exception seems to be the sandwich that is served on a hamburger bun. Please advise on the proper etiquette for this situation. I maintain that it is proper to eat the sandwich as served. My wife says it is proper to cut the bun in half.

GENTLE READER - Much as Miss Manners would like to take sides in an issue that will probably take otherwise happily married people to the brink, she has to admit that neither of you is wrong. One may eat a hamburger, or anything else lurking in a hamburger roll, all the way through with both hands, but there is nothing wrong with cutting it in half.

She apologizes for disappointing one, if not both, of you.