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by Abigail Van Buren

Good-Neighbor Policy Is Leaving Each Other Alone

DEAR ABBY: Re computer voicemail systems: The best defense is a good offense. Here's what I'm tempted to record on my machine:

"If you have a Touch-Tone phone, press one; if not, I am sorry, I will not be able to communicate with you at this time. For my name and address, press two; occupation and marital status, press three. To learn my husband's name and occupation, please press four. Press five if you'd like to talk to me, and press six if you'd like to talk to my husband. Frustrated and forgot why you called? Press seven. To have this message repeated, press eight. For a busy signal, hang up, try again, and have a real nice day. -- VIEW OF IRATE CONSUMER EXPRESSED, MINDLESS ANSWERING IS LOATHSOME

DEAR V.O.I.C.E.M.A.I.L.: I am sorry, the advice columnist you dialed is either disconnected or not in service at this time. Please check the number you dialed, and call again ... and again ... and again.