DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please tell me what the proper etiquette is when one sees a neighbor's belongings tossed into the street because their house was foreclosed? Several houses in my neighborhood have been foreclosed in recent months, and things being what they are this situation is likely to happen again.
Do I look away and pretend nothing is happening? Invite them over for dinner? Is there some kind of protocol for offering assistance in this situation? My mother never covered foreclosure manners with me.
GENTLE READER: Pretending not to notice that an acquaintance is misbehaving may be tactful -- but pretending not to notice that an acquaintance is in trouble is just plain cruel.
Miss Manners assures you that the neighbor sees you perfectly well, and concludes that his misfortune has made you cut him.
But then, again, you don't want to be nosy. Please go over and just say how sorry you are and how much you would like to be of help -- offering dinner, storage of their things, or what other assistance would be useful.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I agree with you entirely that it is rude to text while out with friends or family. It should not pull you away from real life, but instead, be a form of communicating when necessary.
That being said, I strongly believe in telephone calls and think that is the best way to communicate. If one of my friends does not answer the phone, I always leave a message and expect to hear back from them within one or two days.
Lately, one of my friends of 10 years and more has not responded to three of my voicemails, but texts me approximately two weeks after my third message and says "I'm sorry I haven't gotten back to you. Let's make plans." When I try calling her back again, she does not answer me for one to two days and then texts me again.
I understand that we get busy every once in awhile and sometimes need our space that I can respect. But this "new fad" is getting to me. How should I respond the next time I see her, if at all?
GENTLE READER: Fads come and go. But new methods of communication are not going to disappear.
Miss Manners only wishes, as do you, that people would realize that the old ones needn't disappear. True, the Pony Express hasn't come by for a while, but even the handwritten word is still available for those of us who choose to use it.
Ideally, we should all be fluent in all forms, choosing the right one for each use. But people do tend to have their favorites, and because texting and telephoning are both suitable for making plans, you cannot really fault your friend. She is, after all, asking to make plans for the best form of communication between you -- a face-to-face visit.