Dear Annie: Recently, a friend confronted me about something that I didn't think was a big deal: Sometimes I forget to respond to texts for a while, and then I reply and say that I just saw the message. Technically, most of the time, it's a lie; I did see the message, and I just got sidetracked or zoned out or didn't feel like replying until later. But I just say it to try to make the other person feel better or to smooth things over. I'm certainly not trying to be deceitful. My friend who always tells it like it is, God bless her, called me out for this behavior in front of a group of mutual friends. A few laughed and agreed that I do this. It was brought up in a joking manner, but it still ruffled my feathers a bit. Am I really in the wrong here? Is there a more tactful way to handle things when you take a while to respond to someone? — Delayed
Dear Delayed: Not responding to a text message right away is understandable — even healthy, as we shouldn't be beholden to our devices 24/7. But lying about the reason for not returning a text is wrong, and it insults your friend's intelligence. The next time you take a while to respond to a message, simply apologize (if appropriate) for not getting back to the person sooner, and leave it at that. No flimsy excuses necessary.
Dear Annie: For at least three years now, my neck has hurt on a daily basis. More often than not, it's stiff, and I need to crack it to get some relief. I've heard that changing to a better pillow can help with neck pain. But when I went online to see what pillow I should get, I was overwhelmed by dozens of options, all claiming to have five-star reviews. Now I don't know what to do! I'm not sure how to make a choice, considering I'm... — Neck-Deep in Options
Dear Neck-Deep in Options: A new pillow might help, but what you really need is to talk to your doctor. He or she can refer you to a physical therapist who can help you protect your neck long term. You also might want to consider using a standing desk, if you work at a computer, because unless you have perfect posture, sitting at a desk all day can wreak havoc on your neck and back. As for the pillow, perhaps the doctor or physical therapist could advise you on the right kind.
Dear Annie: "Sad in Wisconsin" — the man who wrote that when he and his wife give gifts to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, they never express gratitude — should examine why they are giving gifts in the first place. If I see a beggar on the street, I don't give him money because I expect a thank-you. I do it because he needs a helping hand. When I do something nice for my wife, I do it because she deserves it. Not expecting anything back when we give is a wonderful thing. — No Returns
Dear No Returns: Hear! Hear! May we all aspire toward such selflessness.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]