Dear Amy:

A fellow motorist yelled profanities at me and called me a "Bimbo." Why? Because I delayed his morning commute by refusing to make a left turn across a steady stream of traffic.

I seem to be a magnet for these automotive bullies. With some regularity, I am hollered at/abused/honked at/flipped off for such crimes as allowing a pedestrian to cross the street, slowing up so that a driver in front of me can parallel park, or simply driving at the speed limit when the guy behind me is in a hurry.

What do I do about this, Amy? I know it is unsafe to confront the jerks, but meekly accepting unjust abuse doesn't feel right, either. Is there an effective way to discourage such uncivilized behavior, or failing that, to get revenge?

Baltimore Blues

The best way to react to bird-flipping traffic troglodytes is to (1) Get out of their way, and (2) Greet them with a Florence Henderson "Howdy-do!" -- a huge smile accompanied by a friendly wave of greeting. Because an actual Florence Henderson Howdy might be interpreted as sarcastic and incite a troglodyte to further raging, you might have to resort to a mental Florence Henderson Howdy -- which will work just as well. All of the action happens on the inside, but it will still make you smile.

Do not mess with road ragers. I have, on many occasions, pulled over so that they can scream past (often when I am already going over the speed limit). Your real revenge is to survive the encounter with your integrity (and the rest of you) intact.

Dear Amy:

I am getting fed up with cell phones. Every time my friends and I have lunch together, they must stop and answer their phones, chat and talk about things that could wait until later. They have never received an urgent call.

We had lunch together for 30 years without phone interruptions and, all of a sudden, nothing is as important as that darned ringing cell phone.

I am having my friends over for lunch soon. Should I take their handbags and hide them in the bedroom, cover them with coats and hope they don't hear the phones ringing? I will take the time to prepare a delicious meal, and they will not have the courtesy to turn off their phones long enough for an hour or two of food and fun. No one has a sick family member. Not one of them has a reason to grab the phone as though it would never ring again if they didn't answer it.

I think they are rude, and I am angry. Am I wrong? What can I do -- rescind the invitation?

Please help me, or better yet, tell these cell-phone addicts to try withdrawal for an hour or two every day.

Tired of CPs in Georgia

I hear you, sister. Or rather, I could hear you if it weren't for the person sitting next to me on the bus, self-narrating what must be a very empty life (" . . . he said the toenail had fungus and might need to come off . . . "). In fact, of all of the cell-phone conversations I have overheard during the last couple of years, only one stands out as being justifiable. Yesterday, while at a cafe, I heard a man answer his phone, listen intently, then say, "Okay. Check the patient's history and then start the IV drip and I'll be there as soon as I can." Now that guy should definitely have a phone with him at all times.

You could try to respond to your friends' rudeness with a fairly aggressive maneuver, tinged with humor.

I suggest that you get a small basket, label it "The Cell Phone Crib," or some such name, and announce to your friends that you would love it if everyone could let their cell phones take a "nap" while you are visiting with one another. You start by taking out your own cell phone (if you have one), turning it off and placing it in the basket. Then pass the basket around the table. Once your friends have placed their phones in the basket, place the basket in a cupboard. If your friends refuse to cooperate, then I'd say that they are more attached to their cell phones than they are to you.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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