How to deal with an interruption when on the phone
Dear Miss Manners: I recognize that the general rule is that it is polite to not chat on a mobile phone when you have live people right there with you. But what about when you are intentionally off alone, on the phone, and others come up to you and interrupt the conversation? I am thinking of a situation in which I was waiting for my significant other to fill out some forms at his new job. We had driven together because we had some mutual errands to run after he finished. I happily spread out on a blanket under a tree, rather far from the office building, got out a snack for myself, and, once done eating, called my brother on my cellphone to inquire as to the health of my sister-in-law, who was quite ill. All of a sudden, I barely heard my name being called from afar. It was my significant other and his new boss, waving at me and calling out. I got up from my blanket, crossed the field to the building and shook hands with her, telling my brother to hold on a minute and apologizing to her for being on the phone. Is there a polite way to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m on the phone just now”? Or is it always rude to ignore those right in front of you, even if they have interrupted you? Gentle Reader: Your brother comes first, because the conversation with him preceded that with your partner and his boss. And this would be true whether the interruption was from your spouse’s new boss, or his old barber. In either case, it is important to convey to the interloper that he is intruding. If in close proximity, the correct response is, “I’m sorry, but I was just in the middle of a call,” but mouthed, so as to be only barely audible, and accompanied by your free hand pointing at the phone.