Miss Manners: An exception to ‘people before phones’ rule

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recognize that the general rule is that it is polite to pay attention to those people actually in one’s presence, and not chat on a mobile phone when you have live people right there with you.

Judith Martin

But what about the instance when you are intentionally off alone, on the phone, and others come up to you and interrupt the conversation?

I am thinking of a situation in which I was waiting for my significant other to fill out some forms at his new job. We had driven together because we had some mutual errands to run after he finished. I happily spread out on a blanket under a tree, rather far from the office building, got out a snack for myself, and, once done eating, called my brother on my cellphone to inquire as to the health of my sister-in-law, who was quite ill.

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We were discussing whether I should come visit, when all of a sudden, I barely heard my name being called from afar. It was my significant other and his new boss, waving at me and calling out; apparently, she expected to meet me! So of course, I got up from my blanket, crossed the field to the building and shook hands with her, telling my brother to hold on a minute and apologizing to her for being on the phone.

But I wondered ever since what the proper protocol was. Is there a polite way to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m on the phone just now” (which obviously can’t be done with a boss)? Or is it always rude to ignore those right in front of you, even if they have interrupted you when you were quite obviously trying to have a conversation in private?

GENTLE READER: So many people are, understandably, irked

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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