Carolyn Hax: Co-worker hung up on his phone


Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

Any helpful tips for a co-worker/friend who is constantly glued to his BlackBerry? He’s openly admitted to having a compulsion with it,because he can’t stand unopened e-mails. But every happy hour, party, road trip, etc. turns into his face being glued to that screen.

What’s more annoying is that the conversation will continue, and then he’ll ask questions to “catch” himself up. For example, if we all bust out laughing, he’ll FINALLY put down that phone and ask, “Wait . . . what’s so funny?” We have said to him, “Can you please get off that thing?” And it’s always, “One more e-mail.” And then 10 minutes later it’s back in his hand, but this time under the table.

Seriously, I don’t even know why he even bothers to socialize with us. The one good thing is that he never does it when the big boss is around, so at least there’s that.

(Nick Galifianakis)


Why bother doing anything? It’s not an intimate relationship, and you all seem to be having a fine time without him.

You can, and I hope you do, refuse to answer his catch-up questions, since answering only insulates him from the consequences of his choice to get lost in his phone.

His not doing it around the boss says it is plainly a choice. He’s aware that the consequences of insulting Boss (jeopardizing his job) are not acceptable but the consequences of insulting you (___, because you all keep absorbing them) are acceptable.

Dear Carolyn:

I have a pregnant friend who is driving me crazy. It seems like that with every passing week, she gets more demanding and outright rude. For example, I was at the mall with my mom when she called twice. After exchanging hellos, she immediately asked if I could drive her to a mechanic. I told her I was at the mall and would not be able to take her for a couple hours. She demanded to know why it would be so long.

I was there to see a movie, but somehow in the few seconds after telling her I was at the mall, she assumed I could just drop everything and leave for her. How can I tell her I don’t like the person she is turning into? I think she is going to be one of THOSE moms, if you know what I mean.

Going Crazy

Do: Address her individual encroachments into your business — “It sounded like you wanted me to drop everything to take you to the mechanic, and, if true, I have a problem with that” — with some wiggle room in case you read her intentions wrong. (For example, in the scene you describe, it could just be that she was being direct and skipping the formalities, vs. trying to steamroll you.)

Don’t: Address your global “she is going to be one of THOSE moms” impressions. If the individual encounters with her all add up to someone you don’t like anymore, then that’s the end of the friendship — but labeling her as a type essentially sees her “entitled,” and raises her a “judgmental.”

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or Sign up for Carolyn Hax’s column, delivered to your inbox early each morning, at



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