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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I work in a large office where people are clustered into numerous "pods." These groupings are separated only by partitions. We use speaker phones that allow us to converse without lifting the handset.

Some of the people never pick up their handsets. Instead, they yell into the speaker so the caller can hear them. They turn the volume up as loud as it will go so they can hear their party anywhere in the office. This is very disturbing to those who are trying to concentrate on their work.

Many of these same people use the speakers to retrieve long personal messages from their voice mail.

I am offended when my co-workers are too lazy to pick up their phones. Certainly, hands-free has its benefits, but where do you draw the line? Abby, what is the proper etiquette in this situation? -- FRAZZLED IN FLORIDA

DEAR FRAZZLED: No one should use the telephone in a manner that disturbs those nearby. Talk to your supervisor about the disruption and ask that a company policy be formulated and given to employees. Offer to help write the policy and to hold a training session on telephone etiquette should management deem this a good idea.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Greg" for almost a year. He is 32 and I am 27. For the last three months, Greg has been pressuring me to move in with him. Every time he brings it up, I change the subject.

He began our last conversation with me by saying, "So, when are you moving in?" I told him I can't move in with him unless we are married. He became angry and said, "Marriage is only a piece of paper."

I said it's the only right thing to do. We haven't spoken since.

At this point, I don't know what to do. Please help me. -- OLD-FASHIONED IN L.A.

DEAR OLD-FASHIONED: From my perspective, you have done everything right. You have made your position clear. Now stick to your guns.

Greg will either come around and decide to marry you, or he won't. If he doesn't, consider yourself lucky to have come to your senses before investing any more time with a man whose values differ so greatly from your own.

DEAR ABBY: In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal, but we would like to share with your readers a pet peeve that we jewelers have.

Sometimes customers come into our store for repairs and have trouble removing a tight ring, so they lick their fingers to facilitate its removal. This is gross!

How would you like to be handed a spittle-filled ring and then have to examine it to determine what repairs are necessary?

Jewelers have lubricants available for ring removal, and it is not necessary to share your spit -- not to mention germs -- with us.

Abby, on behalf of jewelers everywhere, we hope you print this. -- FED UP WITH SPIT IN WHITEFISH BAY, WIS.

DEAR FED UP: While this may not be the most appetizing letter I've ever received, it is a problem for jewelers that deserves to be addressed: Readers, if your ring is so tight you must lick your finger in order to remove it, it's time to have it resized, or retire it. Jewelers, place your lubricant in an obvious location where customers can't miss it. Put a sign by it, if necessary, explaining its purpose.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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