DEAR ABBY: This may not be a big deal, and probably isn't worth space in your column, but here goes:
I have a suggestion for doctors and dentists: Please ask your staff to call and remind people of their appointment times. Some of us can get the times and dates confused.
Also, many people have difficulty hearing, especially on the telephone. When you leave a message on our answering machine, don't speak "rapid fire" in a pitch more suitable for high school or college kids, because we simply won't get the message. -- MAJ. BEN WALLACE, U.S.A.F. (RET.), TUCSON
DEAR MAJ. WALLACE: Your suggestions are a "big deal." In fact, I consider them a "major" contribution to my column! Thank you for sending them.
You are not the only person who has problems deciphering answering machine messages. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: This letter is directed to anyone who leaves a message on voice mail. PLEASE slow down when giving your name, address and phone number; this is not a race against the beep!
You may not get the information needed or the return phone call if you do not enunciate and give information slowly.
If you are calling from a cell phone, this is imperative. Technology hasn't yet provided a clear connection with voice mail. If you are calling from your car, it can be especially difficult.
If leaving your message is, indeed, a race against the beep, leave only your name and phone number. I'd rather return the call than replay the message five times. -- STRAINING TO HEAR, RICHFIELD, MINN.
DEAR STRAINING: I hear you loud and clear. And now, I have a message for you: Thank you for a practical suggestion.
DEAR ABBY: This is for "Frustrated Nonsmoker in L.A." I, too, was an ex-smoker with a husband who smoked. The most important thing to remember is to encourage, not pressure him. His first goal should be to cut down, not quit. (That can come later.)
Your mother-in-law cannot be cured or controlled, but you can put another spin on it. Tell your husband that each unopened pack of cigarettes his mother gives him is a coupon, which can be redeemed for a nice long back rub, a breakfast in bed, a shampoo or back wash, or anything special that he enjoys having you do for him.
This won't cost you anything but some energy, and it will relieve some of the stress of his cutting back on his smoking. It will also turn the unwanted gifts to your advantage without putting your husband in the middle.
Even if he is never able to completely stop smoking, you will have enjoyed quality time together and your relationship will be stronger and happier. Good luck. -- TOTALLY SMOKE-FREE IN FLORIDA
DEAR TOTALLY SMOKE-FREE: What a clever woman you are to come up with such a thoughtful win-win solution to "Nonsmoker's" problem. Orchids to you!
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: A frown adds a wrinkle; a smile adds a twinkle. (Submitted by Bill in St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600