DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner, who is generally a wonderful and caring person, likes to, as he puts it, “read the internet” (that is, his favorite news sources) for at least an hour every day.
I don’t particularly mind, although I wish he wouldn’t do this at the table (but I have been guilty of that, too). However, he has a habit of reading things “at” me — regardless of what I am doing at the time.
I may be reading, writing, cooking, thinking about something or rushing around trying to get ready in the morning, but whatever he sees that strikes him as funny, interesting or worthy of derision, he will begin reading it to me without first asking if now is a good time.
Much of what he reads is actually interesting, though I’d prefer not to follow the daily ups and downs of politics so closely. I don’t mind him sharing it with me, but I’d prefer a daily summary of the best of the day’s news, rather than an ongoing commentary.
How can I politely request this? I’ve made the point before, and he has sounded as though he understands, but the habit hasn’t changed. I’m not sure how to give daily reminders appropriately.
GENTLE READER: Next time he tries to read a headline at an inconvenient time, try putting a quick and apologetic finger up, followed by, “Oh! One sec. Let me just finish my thought.” (Or paragraph or risotto or pants-buttoning.) “Then I would love to hear about what you’re reading.”
Miss Manners recommends that you repeat this as many times as necessary, as long as at dinner you remember to say, “I was distracted when you were trying to read me something. Now I would love to hear all about it.” By this time, he will likely have forgotten, or will just give you the highlights.
Better yet, establishing a “no devices” rule at the table will help to classify this information as dinner conversation.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I live in an apartment building that allows us to buzz people in the front door through an intercom system. My neighbor will often buzz us to let her in because her hands are full.
I wouldn’t mind helping her if this was an occasional incident, but she is beginning to do this several times a week. It is really starting to become a nuisance. Please advise me the best way to handle this.
GENTLE READER: Stop answering. Or only do it sporadically.
Miss Manners does not wish you to be unkind or unhelpful, but being available to your neighbor on command is not your job. And under the current circumstances, you may well be trying to do your real job at home and are being constantly interrupted.
If you relegate the buzz-answering to once a week, your neighbor will learn not to rely on you — and perhaps, also, how to put her groceries down for a moment so that she can use her key.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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