Store customers irked when asked to take cellphones outside

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This is my first-ever Dear Abby letter. I am disgusted by the lack of manners shown by cellphone users. I run an antique store in a small tourist town.

I cannot tell you how many “insulted and incensed” customers I have asked to please leave my shop because they insisted on talking on their cellphones.

I have also asked people in church to carry on their conversations outside.

A man at my daughter’s high school graduation got a call and proceeded to talk on and on until I finally asked him to leave. This has happened in restaurants, movies — even a Broadway play.

It’s inconceivable to me that cellphone users are unwilling or unable to understand that their VIP conversations are an intrusion and rude to those who are forced to listen. — PEEVED IN NANTUCKET, MASS.

DEAR PEEVED: It is difficult to teach consideration for others to people who have none.

However, allow me to clue you in to what some communities are doing to curb the intrusion of cellphones: They have posted signs in restaurants, theaters and shops that read, “Cellphone-Free Zone. The owner of this establishment thanks you for not using your cellphone on the premises.

“If you must make or receive a call, please do so outside.” That way, customers are warned in a way that’s not confrontational.

DEAR ABBY: What is proper when you’re talking with someone and you notice the person has food stuck in his or her teeth?

What if the person is part of a group and someone you don’t know very well? — TOOTHFUL IN FLORIDA

DEAR TOOTHFUL: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If you were in the other person’s place, wouldn’t YOU want to be told?

Even if you know the person only casually, try to ease him or her away from the group and say, “I know we don’t know each other very well, but I thought you should know you have something in your teeth. It’s happened to me, and I thought you’d like to know, too.”

Consider it a charitable act. The person will: First, be embarrassed; second, be grateful.

DEAR ABBY: I am a supervisor in a consulting firm. I have recently been assigned an employee who does not dress appropriately for the workplace.

The fashion choices she makes are unprofessional and too casual for our company.

She wears no makeup, nor does she consistently care for her hair.

Abby, this young woman meets the public. Her job is to consult with clients and advise them about investing their money.

Her appearance has been commented on by clients and colleagues alike and does not lend confidence in her skills and abilities.

How do I counsel her without hurting her feelings? — APPREHENSIVE IN CONSERVATIVE-VILLE

DEAR APPREHENSIVE: Your job as supervisor includes counseling your employees with regard to anything that affects job performance and the image of the company. If the company doesn’t have a dress code, it’s time to establish one.

Then schedule a private meeting with this employee and discuss what you expect from her. Offer her a few pictures of appropriate business attire and stylish, easily manageable hairstyles. Stress that her appearance is an important part of the image of the company and your clients’ perception of her skills and talents.

By emphasizing that the dress code will be of value to her, you’ll put yourself in the position of doing her a favor rather than being critical.

Dear Abby is written by Jeanne Phillips. The column was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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