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DEAR ABBY: Whatever happened to telephone etiquette?

We are a busy family and receive many calls from business associates and acquaintances. Abby, they feel free to call at any time, for the most trivial reasons! I guess it's a reflection of our open-24-hours-a-day society, but I consider it very rude.

One man, with whom my husband is on a committee, called at 11:30 p.m. When I politely asked him please not to call after 9:30 p.m. in the future, he became indignant!

My daughter's soccer coach made practice-reminder calls at 6 a.m. When we didn't answer, she left a message on our voicemail, but called again at 6:30 and 6:45 "to be sure we got the message"! I was brought up with the 9-to-9 rule -- you shouldn't call anyone you don't know well before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Also, polite callers identify themselves upfront, as in, "Hi. This is Joe Smith. May I please speak to Jack?" People call for my husband from all over the country. When he's not in, they often demand to know when he'll be back, his work schedule, his travel schedule and his contact information without revealing who they are.

Abby, please remind these people that they are interrupting someone's life with a phone call, and a little courtesy would go a long way. -- BUSY IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

DEAR BUSY: I think you've done an excellent job of that yourself. Your complaints reflect a general, regrettable decline in good manners and common sense. It's one of the reasons some people turn off their phones at night, or screen their calls with caller ID and voicemail.

Callers should always identify themselves. If they don't, before answering any questions, feel free to say, "May I ask who's calling?" Never reveal your husband's work schedule, travel schedule or contact information to anyone unless you know with whom you are speaking.

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