Dear Heloise:

In this day of computerized menus on phone systems, there are still a few live receptionists out here. However, even with a genuine person receiving your call, there can be difficulties.

Always try to use both names of the person you are calling. My husband works in an office with three Bills and a Billy, and two of them have last names beginning with the letter V, so even initials might not do the trick.

Even with less-exact duplication, the office I work in has one each of David, Dana, Dena, Deanna and Diana. What with cell phones, traffic noise, the echoes from speakerphones and a variety of Southern accents, it can save you a lot of time and annoyance if you give both names straightaway.

After all, receptionists do live to serve.

Ginger, Arlington, Tex.

Thanks for the reminder! How nice to be greeted by a "live" voice. Thanks for doing your job.

Dear Heloise:

During the past few months we have received many more calendars than we really need.

I used some of them to make gifts to my grown nieces. I took the calendars and on each month placed a photo of anyone whose birthday falls on that month. This way, they can call or send a card to wish the person "Happy Birthday!" I also included anniversaries as well.

Sherry, Newburgh, N.Y.

Dear Heloise:

After being married for more than 40 years and constantly having hand towels in the bathroom that are never folded and hung up correctly, I decided to sew our hand towels into the shape that I hang them over the towel bar. Now instead of removing the messed-up towel and refolding it, all I have to do is straighten it on the towel bar. This saves me time, and our bathroom looks neat again.

Carol Jake, Kenosha, Wis.

Dear Heloise:

A hint to your readers: Don't throw away those worn-out oven mitts. Wash them, turn them inside out, and you have a fabulous polishing cloth. Great for cleaning silver and brass items, and your fingernails stay clean.

Margot Long, Oxnard, Calif.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE or e-mail it to Please include your city and state when faxing or using e-mail. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.(c)2003, King Features Syndicate