Miss Manners: Texting may solve problem of voice mail that goes unheard

January 23

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am annoyed by the way my significant other handles my calls. Although he is tethered to his cellphone, I do not expect him to pick up every call; it is the lifeline for his business.

Annoyance one: He will answer the phone but announce, “I can’t talk now; I’ll call you later” and hang up, leaving me no chance to leave a message. Isn’t this why we have voicemail, to handle calls we can’t take?

Second annoyance: He never listens to his messages, insisting it is more polite to return the call. I think if I have taken the time to leave a message, and I try to be brief, he could take the time to listen. I don’t like to repeat myself, for one, and I may not need to be called back — the message may be all that is needed to clear a situation.

He believes his way is the most polite, but I don’t believe good manners would be so annoying.

GENTLE READER: If Miss Manners recommends texting, will you understand that she by no means condones its butchering of the language? As the electronic equivalent of a Post-it note, it gets the message across without interrupting the receiver.

However, at the risk of starting a domestic dispute, Miss Manners agrees with you. With caller ID, there is no reason not to let the call go to voicemail if you know you cannot take it. Being told it’s a bad time to take a call by the person who just answered it is as illogical as it is impolite.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Should I loan a small amount of money to a friend?

GENTLE READER: If you are sure that you can, if necessary, spare both.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m at a loss as to how to respond to various inquiries while I’m pregnant. I’m a relatively private person, and so while I’m happy to share personal health and family matters with close friends, I’m caught off guard by acquaintances and co-workers who ask all sorts of questions.

I have resigned myself to the novelty others find in my condition and their desire to talk about it, such that I’ll share my due date, that I’ll be happy whether the baby is a boy or a girl, and that we’re very happy about our future new family member.

The question that is asked most frequently, though, is, “How do you feel?” I usually reply with my usual, “I’m fine, how are you?” as if they had instead asked me, “How are you?”

I swear that I hear a quiet “thud” after my reply, as if they were expecting more. Am I expected to be exuberant at being reminded that I’m pregnant? Should I share how I really am feeling, with reports of itching in unspeakable places and generally feeling enormous?

GENTLE READER: Thank you, no — although it would likely eliminate further questioning. Your response is perfect. Ignore the ensuing thud (unless of course it is accompanied by the breaking of water, in which case you should probably get yourself to a hospital).

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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