Miss Manners: Partner constantly reads news stories ‘at’ me

Much of what he reads is actually interesting, though I’d prefer not to follow the daily ups and downs of politics so closely. I don’t mind him sharing it with me, but I’d prefer a daily summary of the best of the day’s news, rather than an ongoing commentary.

How can I politely request this? I’ve made the point before, and he has sounded as though he understands, but the habit hasn’t changed. I’m not sure how to give daily reminders appropriately.

Next time he tries to read a headline at an inconvenient time, try putting a quick and apologetic finger up, followed by, “Oh! One sec. Let me just finish my thought.” (Or paragraph or risotto or pants-buttoning.) “Then I would love to hear about what you’re reading.”

Miss Manners recommends that you repeat this as many times as necessary, as long as at dinner you remember to say, “I was distracted when you were trying to read me something. Now I would love to hear all about it.” By this time, he will probably have forgotten, or will just give you the highlights.

Better yet, establishing a “no devices” rule at the table will help to classify this information as dinner conversation.

Dear Miss Manners: I live in an apartment building that allows us to buzz people in the front door through an intercom system. My neighbor will often buzz us to let her in because her hands are full.

I wouldn’t mind helping her if this was an occasional incident, but she is beginning to do this several times a week. It is really starting to become a nuisance. Please advise me the best way to handle this.

Stop answering. Or only do it sporadically.

Miss Manners does not wish you to be unkind or unhelpful, but being available to your neighbor on command is not your job. And under the current circumstances, you may well be trying to do your real job at home and are being constantly interrupted.

If you relegate the buzz-answering to once a week, your neighbor will learn not to rely on you — and perhaps, also, how to put her groceries down for a moment so that she can use her key.

2020, by Judith Martin