DEAR MISS MANNERS: Using the standard "please leave message after tone" on an answering machine is as short, concise and polite as can be. Trained telemarketers always hang up. Friends and family always leave brief messages.
What is the correct way of dealing with unknown people who repeatedly call and only say "Hello? Hello?" and then hang up without providing name, number or message?
Many local telephone companies offer a callback feature, but at $1.25 for each use, it is an expensive way of leaving a polite message on the caller's answering machine.
Are there legal remedies to repeated dumb callers, or are they beyond hope? Are they dumb callers or criminals intending to do bad things? What are your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: Truthfully, my concern is why you are so eager to talk to dumb people, as you have characterized them. But Miss Manners challenges you to swear that you never, ever mistook a recording for a person. Oh, sure you did.
The mechanical solution would be to subscribe to Caller ID so you would have a list of your callers, although whether that would be cheaper Miss Manners cannot say. Nor does she understand why you would be happier knowing who dialed a wrong number, who changed his mind about calling you and who succeeded in reaching you later.
In regards to the etiquette of the situation, she does not advise calling back people who did not intend to leave you messages. As they did not get through to you, the inconvenience to you does not seem to be major.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I hope Miss Manners will pardon this frivolous observation, but it's amazing how many ramifications there are even to such simple rules as, "Ladies remove their gloves before eating."
When a lady removes her gloves for dining, where do they go? Are they folded into the evening bag, which may or may not be large enough to accommodate them? Draped over it? Do ladies bring evening bags to the table?
At what point does the lady resume wearing the gloves? Does she retire to the ladies' room, or pull them on as a matter of course after the meal? As Miss Manners points out, glove wearing is not common these days, but I do think that forewarned is forearmed.
GENTLE READER: You do realize, don't you, that we are talking about a white-tie dinner, probably with dancing, where ladies would wear above-the-elbow white gloves? Not about ordinary occasions, when a lady would stuff her mittens in her coat pocket and not see them again until she goes back out into the cold?
If the lady is served a drink before dinner, she must remove her gloves before taking it. Should she abstain, she would remove them at dinner, laying them across her lap, or under or over her evening bag. As she is probably wearing satin or silk, they slide right off, giving her a chance to become acquainted with her dinner partner as he dives down to retrieve them.
She may put them on after dinner if there is dancing or it is time to go home, but not if she will again be touching food or drink. Proper gloves are refreshment enough.