Is it okay to "just check" a BlackBerry or cell phone at dinner if you're having a work emergency or have a sick child at home?

A: "Only if you alert your companion first. Trying to hide what you're doing is rude. I was in a meeting about etiquette, and as we were all talking about respect for others, one person was nodding—while looking at her BlackBerry." 
Michele Wetherald, executive director of the American Association of University Women and a former ethics instructor

Q: What about if there's no emergency—you just want to know who's e-mailing or calling?

A: "When you're 'just checking,' you become the equivalent of That Guy who keeps ogling other women while he pretends he's listening to his date. And you hate That Guy, remember?" 
Faith Salie, host of Fair Game with Faith Salie, a nightly public radio show

"It's never appropriate. What did we ever do without a crackberry? We waited, that's what we did! We waited until we got to that big, black heavy phone at our grandmother's house. We discovered that good news could wait and bad news would find you in the Amazon jungle." 
Pastor Rudy Rasmus, leader of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston; his first book is Touch: The Power of Touch in Transforming Lives (Baxter Press/Spirit Rising) 

Q: What if you're suffering through a bad date/family wedding/niece's ballet recital?

A: "Yes. I think life is too precious to waste by suffering through the school play in which your nephew plays a magnolia tree in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." 
Faith Salie

"There's no such thing as 'discreetly' checking. It makes no difference if you're having a great time or bored stiff. The availability of gadgets doesn't excuse giving less than your full attention to the gathering at hand." 
Jack Marshall, president and founder of ProEthics, a training and consulting firm for business and government leaders 

"If you're on a date gone bad, don't resort to playing games. Just end the evening early and admit to yourself that you're still on the hunt." 
Pastor Rudy Rasmus


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