Dear Miss Manners:

I have noticed a questionable trend in regard to returning telephone calls. Whenever I make a call, often work-related, and am directed to leave a voicemail message, I do so. My messages are usually detailed but concise and courteous, with my contact information included.

It seems that recipients of calls can now no longer be troubled to even listen to their messages; rather, they simply redial my number, often not even knowing who has called. Many of these calls begin with “You called me? Who is this?”

I then must recap the message I have just left. Am I wrong to feel that this is a discourteous practice? Some of my younger friends seem to find it acceptable.

That the telephone is passing out of common use leaves Miss Manners with mixed feelings. For much of its existence, it was accustomed to announcing itself shrilly, without regard to what it was interrupting.

Then along came answering machines, followed by voicemail and caller ID, all of which gave the recipients back control over the timing of accepting calls. But when cellular telephones became ubiquitous, there was a peculiar reversion to considering them an immediate summons, despite their ability to identify and take messages.

So perhaps it is just as well that the movement seems to be returning to the written word. Your young friends probably pay more attention to texting than to telephone messages. They should change those misleading recordings that invite you to leave messages there.

But while those are in place, Miss Manners agrees that it is inconsiderate to treat messages as you describe. You needn’t run through your explanation again. Just say, “I left it all on your voicemail, so I won’t keep you now by repeating it.”

Dear Miss Manners:

Yesterday, four of us ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) had lunch out. While not wealthy, we are all comfortable.

When the check was brought to our table, the total was $60 and change, not including tip. We agreed a tip of $3 each was reasonable, and three of us, not having smaller bills, just upped it to $5 and laid our $20 bills on the table.

The fourth fellow, seeing the bill was covered, then laid down $9 instead of his share of $18. Thus, he effectively took $6 of the tip the other three had chosen to give the waitress. Instead of the $18 or $20 she would have gotten, or the $15 we three had already placed on the table, she got $9 — less than the $15 the three of us gave. He effectively got an $18 lunch for $9.

I was shocked but didn’t know how to approach him and said nothing. What could I have done?

Did you think of saying, “No, you owe $18”? And, if he balked, slapping down the extra money yourselves and then not telling him when the next gathering will be?

Miss Manners would have thought you gentlemen old enough not to be shy about handling the business angle in a businesslike way. The lunch itself was indeed social, but the explicit rules of a regular group may be upheld frankly without embarrassment.

Feeling incorrect? E-mail questions to Miss Manners at; enter them at or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.

2011, King Features Syndicate