DEAR ABBY: On a recent trip to Europe I learned firsthand the meaning of the term "ugly American," which stems partly from the loud, obnoxious voices we sometimes use in public.
When Europeans are out in public they converse in low, modulated tones. They carry cell phones as we do, but rarely did I see Europeans use them, and never loudly. On trains, they walk out of the train car and answer their phones between the cars, so they won't disturb other passengers. And only once did I see someone answer a cell phone in a restaurant.
For some reason, Americans seem to need to be constantly on their cell phones. It's almost as if they have a compulsion to prove to those around them they are important or have friends. Well, they would gain far more friends if they turned off their phones and smiled or spoke quietly to the human seated next to them. -- TRAVELER IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR TRAVELER: Here we go again on the subject of cell phone manners. People who plan to travel outside the country need to keep in mind that once we cross the border we become unofficial representatives of the U.S.A., and first impressions can have a lasting impact. That's why it's wise to ask a travel agent or read up on your destination before leaving to learn what the local customs are in the place you are visiting -- and this applies not only to the use of cell phones, but also to how you dress and whether or not it's appropriate to take photos.