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Miss Manners: It’s tough when good memories go bad

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I keep having this problem, but my wife says I am overreacting, and I want your opinion to settle this.

With recent high-tech advances, people just have too much “good memory” to force upon other people. Last night it really became too much when, at a gathering for about 20 people, my wife simply asked a friend, “How is your granddaughter?” and he pulled out his phone and proceeded to show all the digital photos he has ever collected on his granddaughter. I walked away after 10 minutes, but others stayed to watch, even though I could tell they really did not want to stay but felt obligated to watch. I think people get together to socialize with other people, not to watch “your” show.

Another friend has a habit of bringing his laptop to all the social gatherings to share his vacation photos with us, and he has a story to tell for every single picture that he shows. It usually lasts about one hour each time, and we are all stuck watching his show because his wife makes sure everybody is watching! I got up and went to the bathroom and did not return to watch his vacation pictures.

What do you think? Should there be a time limit for this kind of memory sharing? Or should I force myself to watch even though I have no interest in seeing any of it? My attention span is about 1 minute max.

GENTLE READER – Although Miss Manners has the patience of an angel, she can’t bear this, either. Technology has certainly enhanced the capabilities of world-class bores. And goodness it is hard to stop them once they get going.

She hardly knows for whom she feels more sorry — you hiding out in the bathroom or your wife stuck watching vacation pictures. Instead of arguing the matter with each other, you need a way to put a polite stop to it. That is to say, “We can’t really do this justice now. We’ll have to find a time when you can give us the full lecture without all these distractions.”

And it is too bad that such a time is too hard to find.

DEAR MISS MANNERS – I received a voicemail from someone obviously calling the wrong number. The caller had a flat tire and was wondering whether the intended called was close by. I checked when the message was left and only five minutes had elapsed since then. What would be the polite thing to do in this sort-of-emergency (flat tire) type situation? Call them back and inform them that they left their message with the wrong number? Or ignore it and assume they realized their error and called the right person?

GENTLE READER – As Good Samaritan deeds go, this one is pretty easy.

Someone is stranded and waiting to be rescued by someone who doesn’t know of the trouble.

To help him, you don’t have to leave your house. You don’t have to run any risk. You have the number right in front of you. Can you explain to Miss Manners why you would dismiss this as a problem that need not concern you?

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