Jun 08

Pointy man - go on now, go!

Without wanting to sound too much like a cut-price, Tesco own-brand Larry David*, I am very bad at the goodbye section of a phone call. I just can’t seem to get the timing right for toffee, and the more I think about it the more I come to realise that it’s actually a very delicate balancing act. One I am monumentally bad at.

Depending on how it goes during a phone call, I usually end up at one of the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1: outstayed my welcome

This is when I ramble on, missing the cues from the other person that they want to end the call. As I ramble they go from sending polite signals of “I really should be going now” down the line until they descend, drooling and raving, into the realm of “I will crack my own teeth with a toffee hammer and shit myself in public if it means you will hang up.”

There then follows an awkward series of “umms” and “ahhs” as the sensibe part of my brain tries to grab the controls and point the conversation in the direction of the exit, and the phone handset in the direction of the cradle. Scenario 1 is most often encountered when I am using a desk phone.

Scenario 2: you’ll have had your tea then

And then we have the other extreme, where I end the call quickly and then think of about five things I meant to talk about with the person. Is usually followed by a sheepish phone call that falls under scenario 1, or repeats scenario 2 until I implode with embarassment and just email the person instead.

Quite often I end a call with “That’s great, cheers now!” but sometimes it just seems to get out of sequence and pop up in what should be the middle of the call. Scenario 2 tends to rear its head when I am using my mobile. I think that this is because the terrifyingly short time it takes to heat up against my ear causes all sorts of scary thoughts about dangerous radiation to go through my head**.

Very, very rarely do I get it exactly right, and end up at the right point in the phone call in the right order, at the same time as the other person. Well, when I say “very rarely” I mean “never”, of course. I don’t consider myself to be that socially awkward, I’m usually good enough at picking up on conversational cues (if anything, in person I tend to be reserved) but put me on the end of a phone and I’m suddenly helpless, cast rudderless on a sea of conversational turmoil with waves of potential embarassment crashing across my fo’csle***. I’m not an idiot, really. Pity me. Just don’t phone me to say so.

* I say this because I am sure there is an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that deals with the offense Larry causes by not knowing how to end a phone call properly. Can’t remember the name of it and I would phone my wife to ask, but you know how that goes for me.

** Funnily enough, much like radiation actually would go through my head.

*** Sounds more painful than it is, don’t worry.