Dear Amy: What advice would you give to someone who is in a public place having a very public, loud and personal phone conversation while using Bluetooth headphones (or cell phones in general)?
I’m completely confused as to why anyone would do this, but I see it all the time – in grocery stores, business offices, you name it.
Nobody wants to hear that, and personally it makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable.
KQ in Kentucky
Dear KQ: I believe the reason people tend to scream into their cell phones while wearing headphones is because they can’t hear themselves very well… because their ears are covered by their headphones.
People tend to quickly believe that they are isolated when engaged in a private cell phone conversation, even in a public space.
Landline phones (remember those?) have microphones in the earpiece so the speakers can hear each other. Cell phones don’t seem to use this function either.
The so-called “Lombard effect” describes the human tendency to raise our voices to match the noise around us, even when it’s unnecessary. Yes – this is annoying!
I would like to heighten this complaint by adding an additional annoyance: people using FaceTime in public. I understand that all grandparents find their grandchildren adorable and attractive, but are they supposed to visit these kids over FaceTime in a crowded restaurant? And again with the screaming!
Listeners tend to be more irritated by overheard telephone conversations than face-to-face conversations because we only hear one side of the conversation. Our brain can’t help but get distracted as it tries to fill in the missing pieces. This is especially true if someone is yelling.
Only once did I actually confront someone doing this. I approached a man who had shared some extremely confidential and proprietary information over the phone while sitting next to me in a Starbucks. I told him I was a reporter and was taking notes. (Did that care work, in the long run? I doubt it.)
I’m deliberately dodging your actual question, because – other than trying to make eye contact and putting my finger to my lips in the universal “shhhhh” gesture – I don’t know how to respond to these noisy intrusions.
Readers will want to weigh in… using their inner voices, please!
Dear Amy: Here’s the situation: My friends and I are having dinner at a casual restaurant when the table next to us is empty and leaves behind a half-empty bottle of wine. What to do?
Shall we pick it up and celebrate, or leave it to the restaurant?
What a dilemma!
Dilemma in Denver
Dear Denver: If stealing wine from a neighboring table after diners have finished their meal is your idea of a real dilemma (implying a decision between two relatively equal options), then I’ll be saving my fries more fiercely than usual the next time I dine. near to you.
Those other diners paid for this wine and – just as they paid for your steak or crab cake – it’s not up to you to decide what to do with the leftovers.
For a more professional assessment of your question, I shared it with Meaghan Frank, who is vice president of the family winery founded by her great-grandfather, winemaking pioneer Dr. Konstantin Frank. Meaghan is also an instructor for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.
His response: “There are several issues here, hygiene being one of them. Just as you would not pour yourself water from another table’s unfinished pitcher, this bottle will have touched the glasses from which others have drunk.
“Taking this wine is also not fair to the restaurant and the staff. If your group decided to drink at your table, you would occupy the table longer, preventing the restaurant from turning over the tables and likely affecting the amount of the waiter’s income that night.”
Dear Amy: I have a suggestion for “Anxious Aunt”, whose niece was getting married in Europe.
She must not be pressured to attend. But I wonder if someone at the wedding ceremony could arrange a live stream?
Dear Wondering: Good idea! Eager Tia could even organize a local get-together and viewing party for the other guests who couldn’t make the trip.
Offering to do so may also serve to smooth over the difficult reaction of family members to her decision not to attend this overseas wedding.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or on Facebook.
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