DEAR ABBY: American society has become ultra-casual in dress and manners. When I look at old photographs, men and women used to dress better and seemed to take more pride in their appearance. Now they wear pajamas to shop, torn jeans to work and clothes that are too small for large bodies. I feel we are a nation of slobs.
Are we doomed to be this way in the future? I work in an office of slobs and everyone knows I dislike the "casual atmosphere," so please don't print my name. -- DRESSED FOR SUCCESS IN ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR DRESSED FOR SUCCESS: You are correct. People did dress differently in the 1950s, which took time, effort and money. Things started changing in the '60s -- when the next generation became the demographic that was being marketed to. After that, younger people began adopting the "grunge chic" they were seeing in music videos.
Are we doomed to be this way forever? I think so, unless there's a reactionary fashion revolution. Frankly, I don't see it happening anytime soon.
But before labeling your co-workers as slobs, please remember that they were hired looking the way they do, and if your employer didn't approve of their appearance, there would be a dress code that is strictly enforced.
DEAR ABBY: Tonight I came home to find three messages on my phone. One was from a doctor's office; the other two were business calls. Each one asked me to call back. The callers spoke plainly -- until they came to the phone number, which they rattled off so fast I had to replay the messages several times just to be able to write the numbers down.
What's the matter with people? This happens all the time at work and at home.
Callers, please slow down and speak clearly -- as if you are picturing someone actually writing down your number. Abby, am I getting old, or what? -- SAY WHA ---? ORANGE, CALIF.
DEAR SAY WHA ---?: What you're experiencing usually happens when the caller is in a hurry or calling a list of people they're trying to get through. In a social context, it is inconsiderate. In a business context, it is unprofessional.
People in the financial field are trained to repeat their phone numbers slowly, clearly and twice to prevent the problem you have described. And readers, if you are guilty of this, please slow down and take note.
DEAR ABBY: I have four adult children. I was diagnosed with lung cancer three years ago, but it was detected early and my prognosis is excellent. They keep making comments about their "inheritance." An example: "Take care of that painting -- it's my inheritance." Dealing with the cancer is stressful, but their comments make me feel terrible. What can I say to shut them up? -- NOT GOING ANYWHERE YET
DEAR NOT GOING ANYWHERE YET: Allow me to offer a few suggestions: 1. "Stop hanging crepe because I'm not dying"; 2. "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched"; and 3. "I will, because I've decided to donate it to a museum."
For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more sociable person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)