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Ask Amy: Does wrong number require a call back?

Amy Dickinson

DEAR AMY: Recently, I misdialed my phone while attempting to call my husband.

As soon as I heard the voice mail message, I realized my mistake and hung up. Several hours later, the person I accidentally called, called me and said someone from this number had called him.

I told the caller that I had called his number by accident and that's why I didn't leave a message.

I have noticed friends and family doing this all the time; they will see that they missed a call on their phone and then call that number back, not even knowing who the caller is.

This seems odd to me. I don't understand why you would return a "missed call" from someone you do not know and who did not leave you a message.

What is the appropriate response to a missed call with no message left on your voice mail? Is it appropriate to call them back?

Conversely, should I have left a voice mail message to the misdialed number, saying that I called the wrong number and apologize? This has happened to me a couple of times, and I would like to know the polite way to handle it. — Miss Dialer in Saratoga, Calif.

DEAR MISS DIALER: I am aware of, and also confused by, this phenomenon. The only explanation I have for the tendency to return a misdialed call (even many hours later) is sheer unadulterated curiosity. We think to ourselves: "What if the missed call is actually from the Publishers Clearing House — or Justin Timberlake?" What if opportunity is not knocking but ... calling?

 Other (younger) members of my household report that (in their world) it is now considered obnoxious to leave a message! They say when they receive a "missed call," they consider it like a tap on the shoulder and they always respond, even if they don't recognize the number. They return the call and say, "Hi, I'm returning a call placed from this number."

I'll happily let readers weigh in on the reasons behind missedcallitis.

DEAR AMY: My 5-year-old nephew has started school, and the teacher has suggested he needs speech therapy.

My sister was quite upset at the suggestion and adamantly denies he has a speech problem. When my kids were young they spoke beautifully, but when my nephew speaks I don't understand a word he says. I love my nephew very much and don't want him to be delayed in other aspects of his life because of his delayed speech.

From watching my sister and her son interact, I now see how often she compensates for him and repeats what he says.

I don't know if she's doing this to show him how what he's saying should sound, or if she's doing it for the benefit of others trying to understand him. Perhaps this is the reason his speech is delayed, because she talks for him. Do you think this is possible? She's not the easiest person to talk to about sensitive issues. How do I bring this up without her getting upset? — Concerned Aunt

DEAR CONCERNED: The best way to bring this up is to ask an open-ended question: "What are your thoughts about the suggestion for speech therapy?"

Do not talk about your own kids' beautiful speaking abilities at this age and don't share your theories about why your nephew has a delay. Stick to the topic and encourage your sister to talk it through with you by asking, "Why do you hesitate about this? What are your concerns?"

I agree with you that there is absolutely no downside to following the teacher's recommendation for an evaluation and speech therapy. The sooner this is dealt with, the better for the boy.

 DEAR AMY: I was interested in the question from "Dad," who was excessively worried about his daughter's choice to travel to Europe and stay for a week with a guy she had met on a cruise the year before.

Among Dad's other worries was that his daughter (in her late 20s) was behaving in a way that was "unladylike."

I assume, therefore, that if the daughter was a son who had the exact same plans, the father would have no objection. — Steamed

DEAR STEAMED: I share your assumption.

(You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: askamytribune.com. You can also follow her on Twitter askingamy or "like" her on Facebook. Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them" (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.) 

 


By Amy Dickinson
Tribune Media Services