Hostess: I was distracted by background noise on a business call

dear hostess: The pandemic has changed lives in many ways, perhaps permanently. One change that bothers me is basic phone courtesy.

With many of us working from home, it’s now common to hear a dog barking, a baby crying, or dishes being washed in the background during a business call. One of the guys I work with seems to only call me when she’s gulping her lunch. I don’t think these callers realize how distracting these sounds are.

I had to ask a client to call him back after the gym because the sound of someone doing reps on the machine was so distasteful: gasping, grunting, popping, gasping, grunting, popping— It keeps repeating in the background. He’s cool about it, but am I out of place? Should we accept this disregard as the new normal?

Lunch and gym Breathing is really extreme. (“Lunch Munching and Gym Wheezing” is also an excellent name for a cartoon show.)

But, Miss Manners points out, when we work from home, we’re not immune to the occasional barking dog or wayward car siren, even from across the road. So she suggests a simple, non-accusative, “Why didn’t I call you back at a better time?” and then frantically wish there was one.

dear hostess: I have a colleague who is obsessed with a particular movie series that appeared in their youth. They like to talk about it, which is good. When someone says they don’t care about the series, I’ve seen them get very defensive, even a little pissed off.

When I was asked my opinion the other day, I avoided the subject because I personally don’t like these movies. We work in a small company and it’s obvious if only one person is avoided. How do I best tell them I’m not interested in that subject?

“If you don’t Want to hear my opinion, then you probably shouldn’t ask. “

dear hostess: My nephew is getting married soon. I got a wedding invitation that said “Vegetarian or Vegetarian with Special Dietary Requirements”. My nephew’s family is all meat eaters; none are vegetarian or vegan. I feel strange. Usually vegetarian/vegan options are special requests.

Did I mention it? Or is meat a special dietary requirement? It’s a new world so I’m not sure.

I was thinking I’d go along with it and have a good lunch beforehand. His grandmother thought it was funny.

grandma will find out It’s even more fun if you write down that your special dietary requirement is meat.

But your host won’t be so happy. The hostess advises you and your grandma to make plans for this to eat your chunks of beef before or after the fact—and keep the humor of the whole situation to yourselves.

New Miss Manners column to be released Monday-Saturday You can send questions to the hostess on her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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