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Q: My mother is constantly calling me to say, "Did you just call me?" Anytime her phone rings and she can't get to it, she calls everyone she knows and asks that question. It is particularly irritating if I am in the middle of something that's difficult to put down when that's the only reason she called. Then she hurries on to the next person on her list to check.

I have repeatedly suggested caller ID, but she won't get it, saying she'll just check around. She knows it's irritating, especially when she calls me at work.

Any suggestions on how I can learn to live with this or get her to stop it?

Lynn in Whitehouse, Texas

A: It appears your mother has too much free time on her hands. She may be reaching out because she is lonely and needs to talk to somebody. (If she calls enough people, surely someone will spend some time with her.) I don't know what her mental status is, but she could also be losing it.

If her phone rang, it could have been a telemarketing call. So if your mother feels that caller ID isn't for her, ask her if she might compromise and get an answering machine.

The other woman

Q: I have been seeing my boyfriend for 2 1/2 years, and ever since we started dating he has had another woman in his life: his sister. It seems whenever we're around her, I do not exist!

He uses her as his confidante and solicits her opinion about everything without consulting me at all. People have asked them before if they are dating.

I have expressed my discomfort with his relationship with his sister before, but he doesn't care. He just says he doesn't mean to hurt me - but it does. He has been talking about our becoming engaged lately, but I don't think I can marry a man who puts his sister before me. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Tired Of Coming In Second in S.C.

A: Not in my opinion. Not knowing your boyfriend and/or his sister, nor having witnessed the dynamic between them, I am not in a position to note whether their closeness is excessive. However, because they seem to be unusually bonded, the woman who marries your boyfriend will have to be willing to accept a "package deal." And you don't appear to be that kind of person. Caveat emptor.

Correct change, please

Q: Am I being old-fashioned to expect servers to bring me all the change due me when I pay my bill at a restaurant? Three times in the last few months, I have been shortchanged. The amounts are small, from a few cents to almost a dollar. It's not the amount that concerns me; it's the notion that it's the proper thing to do.

When I politely request the remainder of my change, I have been subjected to thinly disguised disdain and a rude reply. On one occasion, I was informed that the server didn't have the correct change, and then additional coins were dropped on the table. In every case, some mention was made of their expectation that I would include the shortage in their gratuity. I feel it's my money, and I'll decide how to leave the tip.

Am I living in the past by expecting correct change?

Michael in Chelsea, Ala.

A: Heck no! The servers you describe are extremely presumptuous. You have every right to tell the server that you expect all the change that's coming to you, and you should inform the manager of the restaurant about what's going on. If the situation isn't corrected, you also have the right to take your business elsewhere. That's what I'd do.

Dear Abby Is Written By Abigail Van Buren, Also Known As Jeanne Phillips. Find columns at

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