DEAR MISS MANNERS: Since the advent of hands-free devices for cellphones, it seems that many people feel the need to multitask or entertain themselves while they accomplish a boring task.
However, cellphones amplify background noise. While driving, one finds oneself subjected to the sounds of running water, whirling blenders, clanging dishes, talking GPS and other sounds. I don’t know how one can be a defensive driver while talking on the phone to someone who cannot see the traffic situation. Not only do these noises make the conversation unpleasant, I find it rude.
GENTLE READER: It comes as a relief to Miss Manners to discover that the boring task you refer to is driving, and not the call itself (and as a surprise that your friends have running water and blenders in their cars).
Etiquette objects to overt demonstrations that you are not listening, but cares less whether you are actually paying attention. This allows for driving or looking at your computer (preferably not both at the same time), so long as your computer does not play an audible fanfare when you win at Solitaire.