Q. My husband and I divorced two months ago, after two years of separation. We have one daughter under 10. We continue to go out together with our daughter (to dog shows, movies, dinner) and occasionally go out together without her to dinner, movies or plays. As a matter of fact, we get along much better now than we did when we were married.
My ex-husband is up for a big promotion to the presidency of a large corporation. My friends have suggested that I may be jeopardizing his chances of getting this wonderful new position, because of our confusing relationship. I would never want to do anything to hinder his career.
A second problem is that if he does get the position, a large reception will be given in his honor. Is it inappropriate for me to attend? Should I just send our daughter? If you say it is okay, should I be in the receiving line if asked? If so, how should I be introduced?
A. Miss Manners congratulates you on the civility of this relationship and can hardly imagine how your former husband's employers could hold it against him.
She would think it more inhibiting to your husband's social life than his professional life to have around an apparent wife who isn't a wife.
Appearing in public in the role of a wife is, however, confusing. It is not customary to expose strangers in a receiving line to such an interesting situation without giving them the time or information to grasp it. If there is a question of the family's being represented in the receiving line, she suggests that your daughter be that representative.
Q. I had a somewhat frustrating problem with my bank, which was made worse by the terrible sound quality of their telephone system. Finally I wrote a letter to my loan officer, complaining about the problem and rather pointedly mentioning the poor phone system.
I was totally unprepared for his reaction. He immediately called me and launched into a lengthy and angry tirade on the "obnoxiousness" of my remarks. "You see," he said in a condescending fashion, "many people in business these days use speaker phones, which may give an echo sound to the caller. If you think you're being spoken to on a speaker phone, it is simple enough to request that the person you're calling take the call on the receiver."
Well, first I didn't know that the problem was caused by speaker phones. Second, I don't feel that it's fair for the burden to be on me to figure it out. Third, can it be legal to put people on a speaker phone for the world to hear, without informing them first? And fourth, is it obnoxious to bring something like this up in business circles?
A. Never mind the quality of the telephone system. It is the quality of bank manners that needs fixing.
Assuming that your letters of complaint are decently framed -- a rude one would not excuse return rudeness, but Miss Manners confesses to being worried about yours -- it is time to write another one. The banker's supervisor ought to be alerted to the fact that one of the employees is bawling out the customers.
Miss Manners considers it a matter of etiquette, if not of law, that anyone on the telephone be informed if another party is listening by whatever means. Any lack of clarity need not be specifically diagnosed; one simply says, "I can't hear you very well," and leaves the other person to solve the problem.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.