More Polite

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend who doesn’t know she’s being rude. She answers the
phone mid-sentence, usually starting with “I can’t talk now because….”
I have tried to gently say things like “Hello is nice.” I’ve even asked,
“Why answer if you cannot talk.” Her reply has been that she’s trying
to save time with voice mails and callbacks, and answers enough to
find out if it is a life and death crisis or if we can talk at another time
and then set the time. I would rather leave a message that says, “I
would like to talk to you. Here’s when’s good for me. If you can’t talk
then, tell me when is good for you. The headline is X..” Am I being too
sensitive or unreasonable?

More Polite

Dear More Polite:

You are being very reasonable and also very sensitive. Clearly your life
is less stressed-out that your friend’s and you probably have the time
to be more polite. I am not excusing her behavior, but I wouldn’t be
shocked if her job involves being billed by the quarter-hour, or even
minute, and that you are in a more sensitive caring profession. Your
friend is being ruder than she needs to be and you are being more
sensitive than you will need to be to stay her friend. Find a
compromise, stop caring, or don’t dial.

Assuming that on balance she is a good friend in other respects, I’d
send her an email that says, I get frustrated when you answer without
being able to talk. If I call your number, please assume it actually IS a
very time-dated problem, if not a life and death situation. If you
answer I will assume you can talk then. If not I will leave a message If
I send you a text or email that says, when can you talk, please let me
know when is good. I don’t like having to make an appointment with a
friend like I do with a doctor, but it’ll make our friendship last longer.
She may take umbrage, or she may offer to change. But this strategy
should start a healthy discussion about communication and
expectations. When that happens, ask if you’re the only one who’s
complained. My guess would be No.