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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I work for a telephone research firm. I haven't been working for this company for very long, but I have already found that most people have terrible phone etiquette.

We are taught to be polite to everyone we talk to, yet we no sooner utter the phrase, "Hello, my name is ... I work for a research firm," when the phone is hung up in our ears, without a word being said. All they have to do is tell us they aren't interested, and we would tell them to have a nice evening. We don't force anyone to talk to us.

Also, because the computer picks the phone numbers, we don't know who we're calling. We call a lot of businesses, but the majority of them don't answer the phones correctly. They say "Hello," with no indication that it is a business. Then they get upset when we say we work for a research firm -- as though we've imposed upon them. If they would answer their phone with the name of their business, we would apologize and tell them we've reached the wrong number.

Some people treat us like we're lowlifes to be doing this, but companies pay our firm to do these surveys. For us, it's a job! We have senior citizens, students and wives working for extra money to help with the bills and to buy a few groceries. What's so wrong with that? We were taught by our elders to be polite to everyone, but it seems as though they live by a double standard. -- M.B. IN BELLE PLAINE, IOWA

DEAR M.B.: There is no excuse for rudeness, but many people find it highly inconvenient to get a telephone call when they are feeding the baby, putting groceries away, hurrying to pick up the children at school, etc., and they resent being interrupted by someone who is taking a survey or selling something.

People have telephones in their homes for their own convenience, not for the convenience of the research and marketing firms.

DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 44 years and thought I knew my husband well.

Twice recently I returned home earlier than he expected, and I found him watching pornographic movies! He is 73 years old with a problem due to prostate surgery. Abby, this has bothered me so much I am almost in a daze since this happened.

I consider myself a fun-loving, broad-minded person, but this is so contrary to my nature, I cannot accept it.

Who has the problem? Him or me?

I have not been able to discuss this with him yet. I await your advice. -- A PERPLEXED READER

DEAR PERPLEXED: As I see it, the problem lies in your inability to accept the fact that your husband enjoys watching pornographic movies. (Many people do.) You should make an attempt to discuss it with him. However, do not make an issue of it.

Because of your husband's prostate surgery, he may require visual stimulation to become aroused. He should talk to his doctor for further reassurance and medical help if it's indicated. He may be unaware that most cases of impotence can be treated.

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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