DEAR ABBY: I have been cross-eyed my whole life. I have had surgery, worn an eye patch, special contacts, and have worn bifocal glasses ever since I was 2. Now that I am 21, my “lazy eye” is less noticeable than before; however, it still crosses when I must focus on something tiny. It causes me to have severe double vision.

I work in a medical office, where I work hands-on with patients. While doing so, I tend not to wear my bifocals because my eyes only cross when I have to read small print. (And, being only 21, it’s incredibly uncool to be wearing Coke-bottle glasses.)

Is there a nice way I can respond when older co-workers ask me to read small numbers at the front desk for them? Because I am younger, they often ask me to bring my “young eyes” to rattle off patient phone numbers. Although they are all aware of my problem, they pester me anyway, even though they know it’s hard on my eyes. (The truth is, while they may have poor vision themselves, I am the only one with severe diplopia.)

Is there a nice way to get these old grannies off my back without having double vision for the rest of the day? – DOUBLE-VISIONED IN MICHIGAN

DEAR DOUBLE-VISIONED: The magic words are, “Sorry, I can’t help you. I’m not wearing my reading glasses.” Then suggest to the “grannies” that they ask the office manager to buy a large magnifying glass to keep at the front desk.

DEAR ABBY: Ring, ring! Cell phone etiquette question. Certainly there must be some.

Every time I have one particular family member over, she brings her cell phone and normally has the ring tone on loud. Regardless of the volume, her calls always turn into a long, drawn-out conversation with one of her friends or other relatives. The volume of her cell phone isn’t what bothers me as much as the fact that her visits are disturbed by her social life.

If it were a call from work, or some emergency she was expecting to hear back about, or even a child that needed attention, perhaps it wouldn’t seem so offensive. I have my own phones at the residence but, unless I am expecting an important call, I normally don’t answer it when I have guests over.

What can I say to people who think it’s OK to take all their calls at my house during our visits, short of not inviting them and their phones into my home? – “HUNG UP” IN SEATTLE

DEAR HUNG UP: Yours isn’t a question about cell phone etiquette as much as it is about basic good manners. Explain to your family member how insulting it is when she carries on long, involved conversations while you sit there. A quick “I’m at my ( )’s, and I’ll call you later,” is permissible.

You could also post a sign on your front door that reads, “No Cell Phone Zone.” Others have done it with some success.

DEAR ABBY: My brother is ticked off at me because I sing songs all the time. I sing a few lines, and he yells, “Stop!” Each time I make a little noise, he also demands that I stop. It seems like everything I do he tries to stop me from doing.

My parents try hard to get him to stop yelling at me, but he won’t. I’m getting really frustrated. How can I solve this problem? (I’m 7.) – FRUSTRATED IN BERKELEY

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Ignore him. The more your brother yells, the louder you sing. And when your parents get tired of the sound of his yelling, they’ll figure out a way to put a stop to it. Parents always do.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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