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Miss Manners: Must I stop and talk when I’m in a hurry?

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend calls out to you in a parking lot. You wave hello, and keep going to your destination. Is it OK just to wave to a friend when you are in a hurry? Or do you have to stop and talk?

GENTLE READER: In our current situation, you could actually be fined for it. That excuse will not last forever, however.

When things return to normal, Miss Manners assures you that as long as you make it clear that it is your schedule, and not your affection, that is in question, it will still be acceptable to keep moving. This can be accomplished by accompanying the wave with a gesture to a (real or imagined) wristwatch and a hurried, but pleasant and apologetic, facial expression. If you are able to follow up later with a phone call or email, it may quell any fears that the friendship was not worth stopping for. Unless of course, that is the actual case.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often send texts and emails that need an answer, but I get crickets. If I’ve made a request, I’m totally fine with hearing, “Sorry, I can’t do this,” but hearing nothing puts me in a quandary.

I’m pleasant and friendly in tone, so I don’t think I’m putting people off. What’s going on here? Is this the new norm? How can I address these nonresponders?

GENTLE READER: It is endlessly annoying that people seem to find the time to regularly text pictures of goldfish that look like humans, yet somehow are unable to answer direct questions like, “Are we still on for parachuting tomorrow?”

Electronic correspondents tend to be selective in how they define “busy.” Miss Manners suggests that you try calling instead. Although she holds out little hope that this will be any more effective, it does tend to convey more urgency. She further allows you, after a reasonable amount of waiting time, to send a follow-up message that says, “Since I have not heard from you, I assume that you are no longer available,” and make other plans.

Enough rounds of this should either reform your friends – or demonstrate that they may not be worth the correspondence.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was married for more than 50 years and have been widowed for two. I wonder how to refer to certain things and people.

We lived in “our house” and raised “our children.” I still live in the same place, and of course have the same children. But is it now “my house” or still “our house”? Are they “my children” or “our children”? Or are both acceptable?

Just because he is gone does not mean he was not an important partner and part of my life.

GENTLE READER: There must be someone in your life who thinks otherwise, and is helpfully suggesting that you “move on.”

Miss Manners gives you her permission to ignore such pressure. Indeed, the children and house were joint efforts and you may refer to them as such. You may continue to wear your wedding ring if you wish, and use your formal name (i.e., Mrs. Guiseppe McCann), if that is what you were previously called.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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