Dear Abby: I am an emergency (911) dispatcher in a town of 60,000 people. Our dispatch center serves the city police department, the sheriff, the city and county fire departments and the local ambulance service. This means we dispatch fire, police and medical.

My co-workers and I have some suggestions for those who may need our help in the future:1. It's our job to sift through details and get basic information. We are not being nosy when we ask if drugs or alcohol were involved in the emergency. The paramedic may need to know in order to better treat this person.

2. Please do not scream into the phone that we "know" where you are - we have to confirm that information with what our computer gives us in case you have moved or are using a neighbor's phone. And don't scream and curse us, demanding that we get emergency personnel there NOW - we can't airlift them. They have to use the same streets everyone else uses and have to contend with the same traffic.

3. If you are reporting a fight or domestic problem, we don't need to know what you think of someone's character or lifestyle - just give us the address, and if there are any weapons. We appreciate all the information that's pertinent, and we may ask for other information - but let us ask you instead of you telling us how many boyfriends the lady next door has, or how she supports herself.

Don't get us wrong, Abby. Without the help of concerned neighbors, some people would be robbed, beaten or even murdered. But please emphasize to your readers that cooperation is the key and that they should allow us to do our job - which is helping them.

Thanks for letting us blow off some steam.

- E-911 Dispatchers Who Care

Dear Dispatchers: I'm glad to help, and I'm sure many will read your suggestions with interest. A final thought I'd like to add to your short list: The 911 emergency reporting system is not equipped to answer questions or give directions. Do not call 911 unless you need immediate emergency assistance.

Dear Abby: Last year I married a man who had gone through a very bitter divorce seven years ago. When his divorce was final, he had gained so much weight that a jeweler had to cut off his wedding ring.

Imagine my surprise when I learned a few weeks ago that he had that wedding ring repaired, and he's wearing it on his keychain. I asked him to please put it away. He refused, saying that ring is a reminder of how bad his first marriage was.

We see his "ex" regularly because there are children involved - so it's not as though he needs another reminder.

Abby, am I overreacting, or is there something strange going on here?

- Lone Star State

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Dear LSS: You are not overreacting. It is, indeed, strange that your husband is literally wearing a battered trophy from his failed marriage.

However, if this gives him some kind of perverse pleasure, leave him alone. He reminds me of the man who kept hitting his head with a hammer because it felt so good when he stopped.


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