Miss Manners: I get distracted by background noise during business calls.

Dear Miss MannersThe pandemic has changed life in many ways, perhaps permanently. One change that is getting on my nerves is basic phone etiquette.

While many of us are working from home, it’s common to be in business while listening to dogs barking, babies crying or washing up in the background. One of my co-workers seems to only call me while she’s eating her lunch. I guess these callers have no idea how distracting these sounds are.

I had to ask a client to call me while he was at the gym because the sound of someone doing reps on a machine was so off-putting: whiz, thump, bang, whiz, grunt, bang – it was constantly repeating in the background. He was nice about it, but was I out of line? Should we accept this thoughtlessness as the new normal?

Hit lunch and gym Screaming is really extreme. (“Lunch Munching and Gym Whistling” would be a great name for a cartoon show.)

But, Ms. Manners points out, none of us are immune to the occasional barking dog or car alarm when working from home, even if the sound is from across the street. So, “Why don’t I call you back at a better time?” She makes a simple, non-judgmental suggestion. And then hope like crazy that there is one.

Dear Miss Manners: I have a coworker who was immersed in a series of movies that came out when they were young. They like to talk about it, that’s good. I’ve seen people get very defensive, even a little angry, when someone says they don’t care for a series.

When asked for my opinion the other day, I avoided the topic because I personally don’t like the movie. We work in a small company, and it can be obvious when only one person is removed. How can I tell them I’m not interested in this?

“If you don’t If you want to hear my opinion, then maybe you shouldn’t ask.

Dear Miss MannersMy nephew is getting married soon. I got the wedding invitation, and it says “vegetarian or vegan with special dietary requests.” My niece’s family are all meat eaters; None of them are vegetarian or vegan. I find it strange. Vegetarian/vegan options are usually a special request.

Should I mention it? Or is meat a special nutritional question? It’s a new world, so I wasn’t sure.

I was thinking of going with him and having a big lunch beforehand. His grandmother thought it was funny.

Grandma will get it. It’s even funnier if you pencil in that your special dietary request was meat.

But your hosts will not be so funny. Miss Manners, you and Grandma so plan to eat your big cow before or after – and keep the humor of the situation to yourselves.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday. washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manner at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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