DEAR ABBY: I am the youngest of five siblings. There is a large age gap between my older siblings and me, and quite frankly, despite the fact that I am now a 38-year-old physician, they seem not to take me seriously.
My problem is that my family members insist upon calling me while I am at work. I am a surgeon, and although you might find this hard to believe, these folks think that because they are "family" it's OK to contact me at any time during the day. I have tried to explain that I need to focus on my patients during office hours, but they continue to call, write and send packages to me at the office.
I have instructed my staff not to interrupt me and to inform any family member who calls that I prefer to be called at home, unless there is a life-threatening emergency. My father and oldest brother have actually been rude to my staff and have later chastised me for my policy. Every member of my family has my home address and telephone number, but the behavior continues. Complicating the matter, my family has never cared much for my beloved wife of eight years, whom they have wrongly accused of not passing on messages.
What steps would you take to remedy this behavior? My family members read your column, so your response would be greatly appreciated. -- TROUBLED IN TACOMA
DEAR TROUBLED: I don't blame you for feeling annoyed. Despite your considerable achievements, your parents and siblings still regard you as the baby of the family who should be available to them at the drop of a scalpel. That you have a medical practice to maintain is less important to them than immediate gratification. Since your requests to receive personal calls at home are ignored, instructing your staff to protect you is about the best you can do.
P.S. Perhaps if you returned their calls promptly, your wife would not be blamed so often for failing to relay phone messages.