Dear Annie: It’s important to have etiquette on the phone, no matter to whom you are speaking. When you take the time to call someone but the person is preoccupied, talks over you or doesn’t say “excuse me” when someone in the room is speaking to him or her while you’re on the phone, it’s only normal to want to end the call. This has been happening to me with several family members for pretty much my whole life. I have finally started speaking up about how much it bothers me, only to be told, “Well, if someone is talking to me, what do you want me to do?” or “If I’m needed, what do you want me to do?” Another pet peeve of mine is talking to someone who parrots back the information. I have asked my family members so many times to not do a play-by-play on the phone, but it hasn’t helped. It is a huge hardship and can be completely depressing and stressful to call. Because it’s family, you just know that it will never end if it hasn’t by now.
So to the families and friends guilty of this: You know who you are. Please be considerate when you are on the phone with someone.
— No More Calls for Me
Dear No More Calls: In a perfect world, everyone would give undivided attention in all phone calls. Unfortunately, that is not the case, so we must be a little more forgiving when a family member or friend either talks over us or responds to an in-person request. You’ve already told your family members how you feel. You could either stay angry with them, allowing yourself to be stressed out and depressed about it, or accept them as they are and continue to remind them of your pet peeves, all the while appreciating the fact that they are still picking up the phone to speak to you instead of just texting or becoming incommunicado altogether.
Dear Annie: One thing “Charlie,” who is frustrated by how difficult it is to hear dialogue above background music, could do to help differentiate the dialogue from the music is turn on his closed captioning. That way, he could even watch TV with the sound completely down and still enjoy the program if someone is sleeping or he wants quiet for another reason.
I have a nearly deaf sister and grew up with closed captioning on all the time. I grew to like it, so I kept it on at my own house after I married. My husband doesn’t really care, but my daughters prefer “the TV with the words below.” They are both (and have always been) exceptional readers for their age, and I have come to believe that seeing the written words associated with the spoken words as young children helped this. I don’t know that closed captioning had a direct effect, but I highly suspect it.
— Vancouver, Wash.
Dear Vancouver: I’m a fan of closed captioning myself. Though not everyone likes having to read along while watching, I’ve found that in general, people adapt pretty quickly. I never thought of the benefit it might have for children’s literacy, but that’s a fascinating idea.