Dear Heloise: As a longtime administrative assistant and receptionist, I felt I had to remark on the recent letters about telephone etiquette. I learned this years ago and follow it to this day. When a customer is standing in front of you and the phone rings, always answer the phone. The customer looking at you can see how busy you are; the customer on the phone cannot.

I always say "excuse me" to the customer in front of me and then ask the customer on the phone if he or she can hold for a moment. If not, I try to take care of the call as quickly as possible. Most customers standing in front of you will be understanding of a business call. They wouldn't want their call to be ignored either. — Ellen Chartrand from New Hampshire

An interesting point. However, many people are bothered when being waited on and the salesperson/clerk takes a phone call in the middle of a transaction and then spends time with the caller.

Readers, what's your opinion? — Heloise

Dear Heloise: My mom and I love to work jigsaw puzzles. We separate and group like pieces together and put them on paper plates. It's so easy when we give up to stack the plates nice and neat for when we are ready to come back again. I read your column every day and love it. Keep up the good work. — Pat White, North Little Rock, Ark.

Dear Heloise: I am fortunate to live on the beautiful island of Maui. I have a hint for tourists who will be visiting the islands. Please don't think that putting an umbrella in the sand keeps it there. I have witnessed beach umbrellas flying down the beach end over end, or taking off like a rocket, landing in the water and sinking immediately.

Although it might seem like a calm day, our winds almost inevitably will kick up and be gusty, lifting the umbrella right out of the sand before you have a chance to react. Also, many tourists have a bad habit of planting and opening the umbrella and then leaving the area to snorkel or whatever. Should you need a beach umbrella, bring along an anchor, such as a sandbag (resorts use them to keep their umbrellas from flying away). Simply tie the weight to the umbrella, and it should stay in place. Aloha. — Roger Ross, Kaanapali, Maui, Hawaii

Roger, your beautiful island of Maui is a wonderful place for a vacation. Aloha to my friends who read The Maui News. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: This hint is another one about storing gift-wrap rolls. I open both ends of a large, empty oatmeal box (the size that warehouse grocery stores sell). About 15 to 20 rolls fit lengthwise in it and stay perfectly "squared" on a closet shelf. When I need a roll, it just pulls out from the end. — Claire, Dallas, Ore.


Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or you can fax it to 1-210-435-6473 or e-mail it to [email protected]. © King Features Syndicate Inc.