Miss Manners: Wife would like to say goodbye to husband’s hellos

May 13

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an ongoing disagreement with my husband regarding telephone etiquette. When he calls me, I pick up the phone and say “Hello” and he responds with “Hi.” He then falls silent, expecting me to respond to his “Hi” with a “Hi” of my own.

I feel that, since he called me, and I have already greeted him, it is not necessary to then respond to his greeting, as it would be redundant. So I just wait for him to tell me what he called about.

This irks him no end, which I find rather silly, and the conversation then becomes about why I don’t say “Hi” back. Eventually he tells me why he called, but by then he’s annoyed. Am I required to answer his greeting with another greeting, or is he being overly sensitive?

GENTLE READER: If a greeting given and acknowledged is not sufficient, where does your husband draw the line? Would he have responded to your “Hi” with another “Hello”?

Had Miss Manners been asked to listen in on your end of the conversation, she would have concluded that your husband’s cellphone reception was unreliable. Explain that while you, too, put a premium on manners, you also enjoy your conversations and are eager to hear what he has to say on other subjects.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I suppose I should be grateful that we have received thank-you notes at all for wedding presents we sent, but when did it become acceptable to send out photo cards with a preprinted message?

They have even gone so far as to have preprinted envelopes as well! There is no personalization, let alone a mention of any gift. I have even been told that the “thankful” couple can place their order with the printer, include the mailing list, and the printer will handle that pesky detail for them as well! They need not even be bothered with stuffing the envelopes.

I may be overreacting, but I find this practice insulting. I understand that people are busy, and it is nice to see wedding photos. But is it too much to ask that the happy couple take a few seconds to jot their names and at the very least a line in their own handwriting on the back of the card about how grateful they are for the generous gift?

GENTLE READER: You are assuming that they are grateful. Miss Manners finds no sign of that in your account.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there an etiquette for handing a click-type pen to someone?

I want to know if one is supposed to click it closed before handing it over, so as not to accidentally mark their hand or shirt. That’s what I always thought, but my girlfriend says that perturbs her when people do that because she has to click it open again.

GENTLE READER: Anything that has the potential to do harm should properly be disarmed (or, in the case of a sword, reversed) before being offered. But Miss Manners is more emphatic that this be applied to cutlery than to a pen.

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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