Miss Manners: I hate being rude to my voice-activated speakerphone

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Dear Miss Manners: I have a voice-activated speakerphone, and for the most part, it’s a useful delight throughout the day. But I have a complaint to which I cannot find a solution.

Previously, when the timer alert went off, I could say “thank you” and hear a variation of “you’re welcome” in return, and then the alert would stop. Now I still hear the “you’re welcome”, but the alert continues.

I searched online for a solution and found nothing. It’s so much less polite, not to say less friendly, that I have to say “Stop”.

I realize you are not tech support. But can you please help?

While Miss Manners shares your frustration, she remains conflicted about the need to be polite to robots (she feels no remorse for hanging up on them, for example).

But she agrees that when it comes to a constant companion – and particularly in the presence of children – such devices should be treated with civility. So she adds her hope that the people in charge of programming these things can find more polite ways for us to converse. And while they’re at it, maybe they can find a more polite way to get a device’s attention than shouting “Hey!” »

In the meantime, you can always add a “please” to your “stop”.

Dear Miss Manners: Is it okay to lick your fingers while eating fried chicken in public?

Only if you endorse it on television.

Dear Miss Manners: A friend asked me to drive her across town for a medical appointment. I didn’t say no, but I told him that I really didn’t like driving across town, especially downtown. She got angry and said she would ask a neighbor.

She’s been holding a grudge for months now, and on several occasions has mentioned that she was buying something for someone who helped her. She comments on “what good friends she has” who “will do anything for her”.

I feel like it’s a dig at my house. The other day she said, “I’m never going to ask you to do anything again because you said no. We then argued and no longer speak. Am I wrong? Should I apologize?

It is probable not the fact that you said no, but the flippant manner in which you actually said “I don’t want to” that your friend found so offensive.

Miss Manners does not encourage you to lie, only that it is pointless to divulge the whole insulting truth. She wishes she could persuade her readers to stop “just being honest” and start using the phrase “I’m afraid I can’t.” Unnecessarily hurt feelings are so often the result of the former.

Dear Miss Manners: I often eat alone in restaurants and I like solitude. However, strangers at a nearby table will often strike up conversations with me, wanting to keep talking throughout my meal. Is there a polite way to tell them I’m not interested in chatting with them?

Bring a book, which has a heavier presence than a phone. And then when you’re ready to end the conversation, smile and say you have to come back to it. Even, suggests Miss Manners, if its pages are blank.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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