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Dear Abby: Use your brain, cell-phone users

Dear Abby: I'm writing about cell-phone conversations in a public eatery. Granted, most of the time it can be avoided — and should be. However, there are exceptions, and bystanders should not be so judgmental. I'm a hospice nurse and am often on call, yet not at the office. I must take the calls I receive and often work through complex problems on the phone, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Sometimes the calls are quite lengthy; sometimes there are none at all.

Bystanders who might judge my cell phone use do me a great disservice, and likewise people in other professions. My family is just glad that I can go out and enjoy time with them, even when I'm "working." They appreciate what I do and are proud that I give these worthy patients attention when they need it. Please consider that when you are a bystander, you might not know the "rest of the story." — Nurse in Ada, Okla.

Dear Nurse: While your cell phone use in restaurants might be necessary, you know as well as I do that most conversations aren't. You are the exception. Read on:

Dear Abby: After reading about obnoxious cell phone use in your column, I had to share something I saw. I was waiting in line at a bank while a mother on a cell phone was doing her transactions. Her 10-year-old daughter was at her side.

The mother was in not one, but two conversations: "Yeah, yeah, that's right. No, no, I was talking to HIM. OK, fine! No, no, I was talking to HER." Finally finished and still talking, the woman walked outside, and I went to the teller's window.

I quickly finished my business and noticed the daughter was still standing next to me. I took her outside and found the mother getting into a convertible, still on the cell phone, as was the (male) driver. As the child and I neared the car, I realized the two adults were talking to each other! — Andy in Tucson

Dear Abby: I informed my 17-year-old daughter that when we are together, it's offensive and rude for her to be on the cell phone. I don't mind a quick, "I'm having dinner with my mom; I'll get back to you later." I give her the same respect, even when her father calls me. In other words, all members of this family extend the same courtesy to each other. — Theresa in Sugarland, Texas

Dear Abby: I work in retail, and this has happened to me. When a customer approaches me while talking on a cell phone and tries to hand me the merchandise, I smile and say, "No, don't give it to me yet! Finish your call. It must be important." Then I just stand there. I'm always polite and cordial, and you'd be amazed how quickly they get the "hint." — Loves My Job

Dear Abby: I have a suggestion. If you notice someone ignoring his or her dinner companion and talking at length on a cell phone, it might be a kindness to invite the ignored person to join you. Not only could you make a friend, the rude person might get the hint that such behavior is unacceptable. — Teri in Lynn, Mass.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. © Universal Press Syndicate