Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Husband Alters Meals Beyond Recognition

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Depending on the situation, there are times when I have wanted to scream at people for their lethargic response to a request for help or for an answer to a query. Because I was desperate for the help or for the answer, I never said a word, because I could not afford to alienate the person.

If I am correct, you once wrote that you did not like the expression “I’ve been busy” because it implies, “I have a full life (and you do not).” Having made me wait a very long time and then hearing the excuse “I’ve been busy,” I want to reply, “Doing what?”

I realize that in some cases, a better excuse for the delayed help or answer would be, “It took so long because I really didn’t want to help you.” As I am sure you can tell, I am trying to type my frustration away as I request your help.

What is a polite verbal and/or written (when it is email) response to someone who gives the “I’ve been busy” excuse without providing any detailed explanation?

GENTLE READER: “Of course I understand. I will refrain from making any more urgent requests until your schedule is more freed up.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)