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Years ago, there was an online advice column called Etiquette Grrls, wherein two kind of snotty preppy girls dished out snarky etiquette and lifestyle advice to a clueless write-in audience. Then, they got a book deal and published two different etiquette books titled Things You Need To Be Told, and More Things You Need To Be Told.

The nub and thrust, as it were, of my entry today is that I wish these two women were still live with the Q&A column, ’cause I have the weirdest etiquette quandary and I need to ask SOMEONE, preferably someone who manages to be both tactful and witty about how to handle this one.

What, if anything, should I say when people call in and are eating loudly into the phone?

It not only grosses me out, it drives me damn near frantic to have to endure a phone call with someone who is gnashing on chips, beavering their way through an apple, or smacking on chewing gum. Or eating anything else and chewing with their mouth open or talking with it full. It’s fucking disgusting and civilized people shouldn’t do shit like that!

This one gal today, I am pretty sure was noshing on an apple, and it was LOUD, with lots of crunching and slurping, right in my ear. Moreover, her call was long and complicated, so I couldn’t get rid of her in a timely fashion. And all the while, I was cringing, seething, and imagining hunting her down, snatching the apple from her hands, throwing it out the window, and rantingly delivering a few home truths about people who eat loudly into the phone while conducting business calls.

If there’s any reasonably polite and effective way to ask people to not eat-and-phone, I’d sure as hell love to know what it is.

4 Responses to “Things I wish you didn’t need to be told:”

  1. Maggi says:

    My tendency is to just say, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing you,” or “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” every time they try to say something while chewing / eating. I’ve also said, “I’m sorry, I’m having trouble hearing over all the background noise there,” and after a couple repetitions of things along those lines, they usually clue in and put the food down.

  2. Agree W/Maggie 100%, but I don’t think that I would be so subtle.

    What I would do/have done is say, “I think we have a bad connection, I’m going to hang up, I’ll call you back/you call me back.”

    Then, if they’re still eating, I would ask them if they’re eating something or if the connection is still bad. If they continue after that, they need a 2X4 to get a clue.

  3. kismet says:

    Also on the list: DO NOT call me from the bathroom stall, thankyouverymuch. Unless someone is dead, you don’t need to talk to me that bad.

  4. styro says:

    Yeah, I’d say, “Oh, it sounds like maybe you are busy with lunch, why don’t I give you a call back in 10 minutes and we can talk about it then?” Or the first advice works too, just keep interrupting until they give up and either put the apple down or…

    I had a boss who used to call me from the toilet, and I finally told him it was 100% INAPPROPRIATE and he should not ANSWER nor MAKE calls while he was in the shitter. After that, if I heard the tell-tale echo of tile, I would just HANG UP on him. If he mentioned it later, I’d say, “Before we discuss this, would you like to invite the director of HR into this meeting? I think it would be appropriate to have her here.” And he would STFU.

    God people are rude.

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