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by Abigail Van Buren

Boy Cringes When Parents Talk of Family Finances

DEAR ABBY: Although I don't think my last name is a particularly difficult one, people often struggle with it when they go to write it after I say it. I understand this and it does not bother me. As a matter of habit, I routinely spell my name immediately after I say it, to assist the person who is writing it down.

A security guard who works at a client's building I visit a few times a year has reacted in a hostile manner because I spell my name when she asks for it. She may be under the impression that I think my name is beyond her capabilities -- which isn't true.

Abby, is spelling my name condescending or disrespectful to someone in a business setting? Is my routine practice annoying or is the guard overly sensitive? -- BILL "X" IN GEORGETOWN, DEL.

DEAR BILL "X": She may be overly sensitive or, because you have already spelled your name for her several times, she may be under the impression that you think she's not very bright. Perhaps in the future you should modify your delivery: "My name is Bill 'Xybleniwicz.' I'll spell it for you if you'd like me to ..."