Life Advice



I Hate Being Rude To My Robot Assistant

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a voice-enabled speaker, and for the most part, it is a useful delight throughout the day. But I do have one gripe, to which I cannot find a resolution.

It used to be that when the timer alert went off, I could say "thank you" and hear some variant of "you're welcome" in return, and then the alert would stop. Now I still hear the "you're welcome," but the alert continues.

I have searched for a solution online and found nothing. It feels so much less polite, not to mention less friendly, that I must say "Stop."

I realize that you are not tech support. But can you please help?

GENTLE READER: While Miss Manners shares your frustration, she remains conflicted about the need to be polite to robots (she feels no remorse about hanging up on them, for example).

But she agrees that when it is one's constant companion -- and particularly in the presence of children -- such devices should be treated with civility. She therefore adds her hope that the people in charge of programming these things can find more polite ways for us to converse. And while they're at it, perhaps they can find a more polite way of getting a device's attention than yelling "Hey!"


In the meantime, you can always add a "please" to your "stop."

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK to lick your fingers while eating fried chicken in public?

GENTLE READER: Only if you are endorsing it on television.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend asked me to drive her across town to a medical appointment. I did not say no, but told her I really don't like to drive across town, especially through downtown. She got mad and said she would ask a neighbor.


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