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Miss Manners: Stop texting me to call and just call me

Dear Miss Manners: I have gotten texts from people asking me to call them when I have the time. I know that these people genuinely think they are being helpful and do not want to bother me when I am busy.

However, I do not see it this way. I think if a person wants to speak with me, they should call. If I am available, I will answer. If not, they can leave a message and I will call them back. The text method feels like they are putting the burden of initiating the call on me, when they are the ones who want to speak with me.

Am I justified in this point of view, or am I way off base?

Emotionally, your reaction is understandable. You feel that the texters have assigned you homework, while your reaction to the message leavers is ameliorated by regret that you were unavailable when they wanted to speak with you.

Miss Manners says this as a gentle preface to pointing out that, for the reasons you gave, the text is less intrusive — and therefore more respectful — than barging in on someone, assuming constant availability.

Dear Miss Manners: I have two young kids. For their birthdays and Christmas over the past few years, my sister-in-law has been giving my kids used/outgrown toys and clothes from her daughter, who is older than my kids.

She is not struggling financially. Is it acceptable to give hand-me-downs as gifts?

Strictly speaking, hand-me-downs are gifts, even if the expectation is that they will be passed to the cousins on the other side after use, laundering and folding.

But what level of gift? Miss Manners recognizes she is unusual in valuing a gift by the thought and effort of the gift giver, not its resale value. But under either standard, hand-me-downs are not generally as meaningful a gift as might be expected for a birthday or holiday.

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I were waiting in an airport lounge before an early morning flight. It was a quiet crowd. A man in his 40s answered a call from his lawyer on his cellphone, then proceeded to loudly rant and rave about his ex-wife and their custody battle.

Five of us around him got up and moved after 10 minutes. My husband stayed for a few more minutes and politely told the gentleman that taking a private call interrupted everyone's calm, and maybe next time he could take the call away from others. The man sneered at my husband and continued the call.

What else could we have done?

Stronger measures are necessary when communicating with someone who has just learned that the ex-wife is demanding the sports car as well as the children: “Sir, excuse me for interrupting, but you might not want everyone in the lounge to hear that you are hiding money in your Aruba account.”

Miss Manners is borrowing the Caribbean island for an example, not a metaphor: The effect you are going for is fear, so you will want to include something you actually overheard.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin