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

On Dispensing Medical Advice Without a License

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How available does one need to be to everyone else, given that cellphones are with us almost constantly?

I’m the type of person who isn’t attached to my phone all the time; I keep the volume on low, and check it with some frequency throughout the day. My husband is seldom without his cellphone. He even has a watch that is connected to it, so he can get updates in real time on the off chance he isn’t actively looking at his phone.

I know this is becoming the norm, and part of me resents the constant connectedness of this new age. Once, when my husband couldn’t reach me for 15 minutes, I received three texts and two phone calls. When I did call him back at the end of that 15 minutes (I had been changing over the laundry and was out of hearing range from my phone), I got a tongue-lashing.

He says I need to be connected to it all the time, especially once we have children. I think he is being impatient and that he needs to take a chill pill.

GENTLE READER: There are times when your employer, friends or family can reasonably expect you to respond immediately. These include when your daughter is about to give birth, or when your patients (were you a doctor) are in need of immediate medical attention.

Employers term this being “on call,” a phrase Miss Manners finds particularly useful in its implication that the rest of the time, you are free to do your laundry or read a book. Expecting people to be perpetually on call is neither polite nor sensible.

In your own situation, Miss Manners believes that the arrival of said children will give your husband some perspective on what it feels like to have someone constantly tugging at his sleeve, demanding his attention.

(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.)

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