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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I have had it with people who talk nonstop on cell phones while simultaneously conducting other business.

As a cashier in a large retail chain, I experience this rudeness daily. Customers come to my register, dump their purchases on the counter, and continue their cell phone conversations without even acknowledging me. After I ring up their total, they'll hand over their money or credit card without looking up, grab their stuff and walk away -- still talking a mile a minute.

Do you know what I've started doing to get even? I purposely "forget" to put one of their items into their bag, or "accidentally" charge them twice for something. I know it's not the right thing to do, but I have absolutely no qualms about it. If they don't have the good manners and common sense to ask the person on the line to hold (an average transaction takes less than a minute), these losers deserve to make an extra trip back to get their merchandise or correct their bill.

Maybe next time they'll pay more attention when they get in my line. Thanks for letting me vent! -- CASHIER WITH A MISSION

DEAR CASHIER: What the customers are doing is rude; what YOU are doing is far worse! If you were my employee, you would be history. Sooner or later this will catch up to you; it's only a matter of time.

If you are wise, you will try to get at the root of what's really causing your anger. It's not the customers. Trust me.

DEAR ABBY: I am deeply concerned about our grandchildren, ages 6 and 9. Our son, "Kevin," recently went through a divorce. He now shares custody with his ex-wife.

When Kevin and the kids come over for Sunday dinner, my son turns dinnertime into a battleground. For example, he'll argue with the children nonstop and force them to eat things they don't like. I think he's intentionally trying to stir up trouble. His father and I eat in silence and try not to interfere. We just pray Kevin will hurry up and go home. We're nervous wrecks by the time they leave.

When my husband and I have the children alone, we're able to create a relaxed atmosphere, and our grandkids respond to that. We talk calmly to them about their day, what happened at school, or anything that may be bothering them.

I am concerned about the mental well-being of our grandchildren, Abby. When they get hurt, Kevin doesn't try to comfort them or check to see how bad the boo-boo is -- he orders them to stop crying and quit acting like babies.

Should we speak up or butt out and leave our son alone? Please help. -- WORRIED ABOUT KEVIN'S KIDS

DEAR WORRIED: If Kevin's behavior has changed since the divorce, it's possible he's overwhelmed by all the responsibility he has when the children are with him.

By all means speak up! If it continues, his overbearing manner will destroy his relationship with his children. Offer to take the children on a regular basis for a while; it might lessen your son's stress.

DEAR ABBY: I was married four months ago. I'm afraid it was a big mistake. My husband and I agree that, to say the least, things are not what we thought they would be.

If we get a divorce, do we have to return the wedding gifts? My parents believe that we do. -- WANTS OUT IN LYNDONVILLE, VT.

DEAR WANTS OUT: I agree with your parents. Should you divorce, any unused gifts should be returned.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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