Saying goodbye to goodbye.
June 12, 2006 8:36 PM   Subscribe

If you watch enough television, you may have noticed that nobody says good-bye on the telephone. A little google action finds that some are worried that it may be a natural sociological progression. Or maybe it only happens on TV and with annoying telemarketers?
posted by Ekim Neems (104 comments total)
 
I actually used to have a friend whose nickname was _________.
posted by 517 at 8:41 PM on June 12, 2006


... was "long dash dot?" Pretty unwieldy nickname.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:43 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


That's one needless, time-wasting social convention down, just 456,809 to go.
posted by ChasFile at 8:47 PM on June 12, 2006


No he would hang-up without out saying anything, so when ever someone would reference him the would call him (silent pause). Best nickname ever.
posted by 517 at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2006


There's more to it than presenting snappy narrative -- you don't need an audible good-bye because the visual cue of hanging up the phone signifies the end of the conversation. If you were writing a radio play, you would need to write in the good-byes.
posted by sleslie at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nobody goes to the bathroom on TV either. Natural sociological progression?
posted by mek at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2006


Aha, it must be so, Mek.
posted by moonshine at 8:50 PM on June 12, 2006


Nobody says goodbye on the phone in old movies, either, which is why that Boston article going on about a recent "cultural shift" sounds like a load to me.
Okay, talk to you later.
posted by obloquy at 8:54 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nobody says goodbye on the phone in old movies, either, which is why that Boston article going on about a recent "cultural shift" sounds like a load to me.
Okay, talk to you later.


I'm with the "load" crowd. I just thought it was a time / editing thing. Gotta keep the narrative rolling.

Another example I heard from a director-type person was that it takes an impossibly short amount of time for people to get in cars and drive off. Same for the opposite. Finding a parking spot and decamping takes about 2 seconds.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:01 PM on June 12, 2006


After the AskMe thread on this, this FPP seems a little redundant.
posted by orange swan at 9:06 PM on June 12, 2006


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?
posted by wendell at 9:10 PM on June 12, 2006


I'm pretty sure Emily Gilmore says goodbye. She's such a classy lady.
posted by signal at 9:13 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bauer doesn't eat either. I don't say goodbye on the phone either. I'm just an asshole though.
posted by puke & cry at 9:16 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hello. My name is ZachsMind. I sometimes say goodbye on the telephone. Sometimes I do not. Silent pause for effect. Rumor has it "goodbye" started as "God be with you" but lost a few syllables. And meaning. And significance. God be with you went on a diet and now it's goodbye. It needs a facelift. Snopes will disprove this rumor. Aetheists should take note, and stop using the word "goodbye" because you're only encouraging 'them.' Goodbyes are a crucial part of etiquette in Azerbaijan. Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie aren't really mad at one another. This is an act of parting or leave-taking.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:16 PM on June 12, 2006


My grandmother used to say goodbye on the phone, mid-hangup. I always suspected that's what she was doing, as I could her "Goodbye" fade into the ether and then CICK. Then I got to see it in person when I was over at her house, and it cracked me up.

Hanging up the phone without saying goodbye coupled with the tendency some of my friends have of talking about their friends and NEVER MENTIONING NAMES (e.g. "That was my friend on the phone..." or "I had lunch with my friend today...") makes emelenjr fume.
posted by emelenjr at 9:22 PM on June 12, 2006


I have this weird inability to say goodbye "properly" on the phone. Like, I say it, then the other person says it, then I'm all like "ok, see ya" and they're like "yeah" and i'm like "....bye" and they're "bye" and them i'm all (untypable throaty noise to check if they're still there) and they're all (untypable shuffling noise) and I'm all "By-" and they're all "CLICK!"

Also, I have a problem ordering a "Coke" whenever I'm at a bar or a restaurant. When they say "Would you like something to drink, sir?" I usually say "Ahh... I'd like a coke, please." And they always have to ask twice, and I always have to say "A uh, a coke? Coca-cola?" And they go "Oh. Okay." and look at me funny. It must be because I always forget to capitalize "C" in "Coke" when I ask for one.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:24 PM on June 12, 2006


"goodbye" started as "God be with you" but lost a few syllables ... Aetheists should take note, and stop using the word "goodbye"

And "damn you" started off as "may God damn you to hell", but prohibitions on mentioning God (in vain) suppressed that part. Likewise in "fuck you", God is understood as the implied one that fucks you over. Atheists cannot use either of these phrases.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 9:28 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?
Just like his audience; he goes during the commericials.
posted by Opposite George at 9:28 PM on June 12, 2006


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?

Depends...
posted by Clave at 9:30 PM on June 12, 2006


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?

Has he ever eaten anything on the show? If not, there's your explanation. If so, he's a robot.
posted by Mikey-San at 9:38 PM on June 12, 2006


Yeah that hanging up without the good manners of saying goodbye thing seems rude to me, inconsiderate. Something teenagery about it. I'm So Cool I Don't Have To Be Polite.

It also implies some sort of intimacy where rudeness is ok because after one is close the formalities can be dropped. I'm glad somebody brought this up because it's one of those American cultural phenomena that if one did it in another country with more traditional communication styles, it would be considered either totally rude or insane.
posted by nickyskye at 9:39 PM on June 12, 2006


Bauer schmauer. I distinctly remember Jerry Seinfeld's "Buh-bye," and Seinfeld is shown upwards of 73 times a day on some cable systems. Beat that.
posted by Alexandros at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2006


Nobody goes to the bathroom on TV either.

Al Bundy.
posted by triolus at 9:52 PM on June 12, 2006


I guess I'll be the first to call out Pepsi Blue [click]
posted by b1tr0t at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2006


Nobody goes to the bathroom on TV either.

Al Bundy.

Archie Bunker.
posted by Clave at 9:58 PM on June 12, 2006


Does it have to be "Goodbye?" Maybe not everyone says "Goodbye" but a lot of people may say "see ya" or "ciao" or "I love you" or something similar.

Speaking from personal experience, I feel that this is (largely) a "Only In America" thing. Both in my job and in my personal life, I answer a lot of calls and I the only time someone didn't say goodbye was when they were pissed off. Otherwise, I can't remember the last time a call just ended without a "goodbye."

prepares to hit post and hopes it dosen't post three times... but dosen't hit post without saying....

Goodbye!
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:00 PM on June 12, 2006


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?

He learned bowel control from Chuck Norris.

Also, I say some sort of closing statement, either "bye" or "later" or "take it easy" or "see ya" or ... something. "Later" seems to have become my favorite the last few years... the default if you will. Hanging up mid sentence would seem incredibly awkward to me. I can't think of anyone I know that would hang up without saying anything.

Perhaps there is a regional component to this?

In most business conversations I have noticed "bye" to no longer be in vogue, but it's generally something like the following:

"Ok so I'll fax that contract to you this afternoon"
"Great. Take care."
"Talk to you soon".

or

"Did you get that proof for the new ad?"
"Yes, it looked great. Give me a call tomorrow for the final publication date."
"Sure thing. Have a great day."
"You too".

So while it is not the word "goodbye" it most certainly has a plainly demarked end to the discussion.

But to make sure I understand, some of you will have a conversation like the following:

"You want to go to dinner?"
"Yeah, meet me at Carl's at 7:30"
*click*

That seems... well... odd. Oh well. Different strokes I guess. Also, things are different in the south, and even more different in the rural south.

I can't remember the last business conversation I had that was only about business. That seems so impersonal. I routinely make small-talk with people on the phone, even at call centers. The "one moment while we access your account" is a great time to ask the poor soul in those damn phone farms "So, how's the weather where you are?" or similar. I would think any respite from the monotony would be welcome.

Great talking to you Metafilter. Take care.

Bye.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:02 PM on June 12, 2006


Ciao! *click*
posted by zenzizi at 10:09 PM on June 12, 2006


Elaine: "He's reliable. He's considerate. He's like your exact opposite."
Jerry: "So he's Bizarro Jerry."
Elaine:"Bizarro Jerry?"
Jerry: "Yeah, like Bizarro Superman, Superman's exact opposite, who lives in the backwards Bizarro world. Up is down, down is up, he says hello when he leaves, goodbye when he arrives."
Elaine: Shouldn't he say badbye? Isn't that the opposite of goodbye?"
Jerry:"No, it's still goodbye."
Elaine:"Does he live underwater?"
Jerry: "No."
Elaine: "Is he black?"
Jerry: "Look, just forget the whole thing."
posted by blue_beetle at 10:12 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ynoxas, Nicely said. I realised it's not actually saying the specific word goodbye or bye, it's terminating the conversation with some kind of murual head nod. Like
"Great. Take care."
"Talk to you soon".

Okie doke
Take it easy.

Have a good one
You too

It's the sudden click thing that seems odd:
"Yeah, meet me at Carl's at 7:30"
*click*

But maybe it's paring away bs by not having formal parting?
posted by nickyskye at 10:14 PM on June 12, 2006


24 — what you saw:

Jack Bauer: Chloe, find the schematic and upload it to my PDA as soon as possible!

[hangs up]

What you didn't see:

Chloe: Okay, Jack, I— *click* ... fuck!
posted by bwg at 10:26 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think the article conflates 2 different things.

Not saying goodbye to someone you are talking to is just plain rude.
In my "You kids get off my lawn, goddamn you to hell" mode, I blame it on cell phones. People are just used to being cut off in the middle of a conversation.

But that's not the same as not saying goodbye to people you are instant messaging. Do you say goodbye to everyone in the office as you leave? No, you say goodbye to the people you pass on your way out.
Similarly, you might say goodbye to someone you are actively engaged with in an instant messenger converstation, but the rest of the folk will figure it out when they see you sign off (or get your away message).

I feel for the poor 311 operator, since she has no recourse, but if any of my friends engaged in such behaviour, I'd call them on it rather quickly.
posted by madajb at 10:43 PM on June 12, 2006


Oh for God's sake people, there's no great mystery. Not saying goodbye on the phone is just plain good old fashioned RUDE. If you don't say goodbye on the phone it's almost certainly because your mother was a prostitute and your father was a drunk, and when you were a child they left you sitting on the highway with a piece of string to play with, and a rusty spoon so you could feed yourself from roadkill. Not saying goodbye on the phone means you're a terrible person. Period.
posted by slatternus at 11:23 PM on June 12, 2006


I don't know anyone who doesn't say "goodbye" (or the equivalent) at the end of their phone calls.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:32 PM on June 12, 2006


10-4
Over and out.
posted by zoinks at 11:34 PM on June 12, 2006


Nobody goes to the bathroom on TV either

Frank Hovis (scroll down the page)
posted by Joeforking at 12:43 AM on June 13, 2006


Smell you later.
posted by borkencode at 12:51 AM on June 13, 2006


"Click"

"Did you just hang up!?"

"No, I just said 'click'".

*click*
posted by loquacious at 1:08 AM on June 13, 2006


And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?

I think that during season 4, Bauer excused himself to use the washroom in a hotel room after interrogating Paul Raines.
posted by bobo123 at 1:35 AM on June 13, 2006


nobody says good-bye on the telephone.

And another thing: outside the world of TV and movies, does anyone say "Who is this?" in response to an unknown caller?
posted by raygirvan at 1:40 AM on June 13, 2006


I say "Who is this?" but only because so many of the people who call me just start jabbering away without saying who it is. It drives me crazy.

I've also noticed that people act like I'm insane when I call them and start by saying, "Hi, it's Jay." They respond, "Oh, hello, Jay," or maybe "Yes, I know," and then laugh. I think their point is that it's redundant for me to have said my name in addition to having announced myself via caller ID. Or maybe I just have a funny voice.
posted by jay.jansheski at 2:46 AM on June 13, 2006


I've heard that in Russian telephone etiquette, hanging up without waiting for feedback in the end of a conversation is not considered rude, and there's no codeword like 'goodbye' which both parties must say until they can hang up. A typical conversation might end like
...
-See you tomorrow at lunch.
-Ok. *click*
posted by ikalliom at 3:58 AM on June 13, 2006


wendell: "And how does Jack Bauer go 24 hours without going to the bathroom?"

I hate this argument. It only comes from people who still have but a pedestrian understanding of the complex mecahnics behind 24. Despite the fact the Jack is On The Ball for 24 hours straight, he's not On The Screen for every second of those 24 hours. He spends a lot of time (I'd estimate half of the show, at the very least) off-screen for several minutes at a time. For instance, maybe when President Logan is threatening to send his wife back to a mental institution, Bauer is pinching a loaf. He could have a bad case of the runs and it wouldn't affect the show at all.

posted by Plutor at 4:12 AM on June 13, 2006


I know that I always have trouble saying goodbye, a la SmileyChewtrain. My conversations often go like that. My girlfriend, on the other hand, will say bye 3 times, each one a bit quieter, any time she gets off the phone. It's very bizarre, but I've noticed a lot of people here in Dublin seem to do it.
posted by antifuse at 4:12 AM on June 13, 2006


The wife gets on me because I don't say good bye to answering machines.
Whatever.
posted by notreally at 5:14 AM on June 13, 2006


Nobody knocks on the door on TV either, they always barge right in.
posted by beagle at 5:22 AM on June 13, 2006


And nobody finishes their meals or drinks either, they just get up and leave.
posted by Flashman at 5:27 AM on June 13, 2006


I often say 'tara, then'. Then I often have to explain that it means 'goodbye' to anyone from the South, or not from the UK. Should probably stop saying it, really.
posted by jack_mo at 6:03 AM on June 13, 2006


I don't answer my phone with "Hello" anymore, thanks to caller ID. Unless of course it's from my boss or a number that has never called me before. This is rare.

I do however still say goodbye. Often very drawn out, dramatically, and in a funny voice.

OK, BYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:04 AM on June 13, 2006


I hang up ALL the time without saying goodbye...but thats just my shitty cell phone service.
posted by sfts2 at 6:07 AM on June 13, 2006


Every single damn time I call Citibank to do anything associated with my credit card account they always try and push some kind of insurance or something at the end of every call. The trick is, they start the pitch after I say goodbye but before I can hang up and I swear it takes a physical effort to keep pushing the phone away from my ear. I'm sure this is intentional to ensnare the overly polite. Perhaps just hanging up without saying goodbye is the way to go, kind of a preemptive goodbye strike.
posted by ny_scotsman at 6:19 AM on June 13, 2006


Oh yeah, goodbye.
posted by ny_scotsman at 6:20 AM on June 13, 2006


I do have a few friends that do this, and it has led to crossed plans.

me: "Hey, man, are we practicing tonight?"
him: "Yeah, 6:30"
me: "Sounds good"
him: "Cool" *click*
(although the "click" silent on mobile phones...)
me: "Dustin's place, right?... You there?... damn"

...and it turns out NO, we weren't meeting at Dustin's place, as we had for the previous 8 times, but rather Chip's place. (So I end up driving to the wrong place.) This would have been clear if my friend would have simply waited for the bye/see ya/later keyword to know that I was, in fact, done with the conversation and it was okay to hang up.

Alternatively, sometimes I'll call back for that last bit of information, in which case it's pretty clear that the other guy was a jackass for ending the call prematurely and without warning.

/ didn't RTFA
posted by LordSludge at 6:33 AM on June 13, 2006


This is a total load. I've noticed this in US programmes since I was a wee fella (we're talking almost 30 years ago - shudder) and it always struck me as odd and rude.

It's like closing the door in someone's face: it's best used for effect.
posted by bouncebounce at 6:36 AM on June 13, 2006


I always used to think it was an American thing to not say goodbye at the end of a call. I based this assumption on seeing it happen in so many movies.
posted by davem at 6:38 AM on June 13, 2006


I can almost live with the abrupt ending; most of the time it's just a "See-ya", anyway. What bugs me the most one the phone are the people who call ME up and then ask, "Who is this?" Well, who do you think you were calling? Sheesh.
posted by Wylie Kyoto at 6:46 AM on June 13, 2006


And another thing: outside the world of TV and movies, does anyone say "Who is this?" in response to an unknown caller?

Yes. How else are you supposed to identify an unknown caller?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:47 AM on June 13, 2006


SmileyChewtrain
"Also, I have a problem ordering a "Coke" whenever I'm at a bar or a restaurant. When they say "Would you like something to drink, sir?" I usually say "Ahh... I'd like a coke, please." And they always have to ask twice, and I always have to say "A uh, a coke? Coca-cola?" And they go "Oh. Okay." and look at me funny. It must be because I always forget to capitalize "C" in "Coke" when I ask for one."

Are you in a part of the country where "coke" is synonymous with "soda" or "pop"?
posted by Feisty at 6:56 AM on June 13, 2006


People shouldn't say goodbye on the phone. Just hang up the damn thing. It's only old people who still think conversation is some sort of privileged mode. Do you say goodbye in IM? In chat? On bulletin boards? And with cellphones it's never really goodbye. You'll likely call the person back in 15 minutes. Down with goodbye. Just say your piece and *click*.
posted by nixerman at 7:00 AM on June 13, 2006


I know Germans say "auf Widerhören" hanging up the phone, but do they ever say "tschuß" like they do in person?
posted by pax digita at 7:10 AM on June 13, 2006


I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello. Hello, hello.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:14 AM on June 13, 2006


nixerman: "Do you say goodbye in IM? In chat? On bulletin boards?"

Yes. Yes. No. Then again, I don't say goodbye in email or on MetaFilter or text messages either. I think it's a basic difference between asynchronous and synchronous discussion media. When you get to the end of my email or my MeFi comment, you know it's the end. I hit Post. Or Send. With a phone call it's not the same. I say goodbye, all of my friends and relatives and co-workers say goodbye, and people who don't cause problems like those that have already been brought up here. It's plan old rude and annoying.

If that makes me an old person, then prune me up.
posted by Plutor at 7:14 AM on June 13, 2006


I have a friend whose email closing is "Talk to you later"; when we talk on the phone, we're both on the abrupt side when we say goodbye -- "Gotta do stuff" -- " 'Til next time" -- click! -- but we do signal an end of comm and acknowledge same.
posted by pax digita at 7:21 AM on June 13, 2006


I have the same problem as SmileyChewtrain, but have blamed it on my English accent rather than capitalisation. I solved the problem by becoming a high-fructose corn syrup wonk and switching to coffee - my accent also prevents me from ordering water, and that's not a capitalisation issue.
Sorry about the digression, y'all, and talk to you later,
posted by nowonmai at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2006


Sorry I was too busy multitasking to read the globe article. You know us 21st century people, always with the multitasking.
posted by skallas at 7:31 AM on June 13, 2006


Nixerman: Do you say goodbye in IM? In chat?

Actually, I find (after reading far too many transcripts for my own health) that most people do signal an end to the conversation, usually with something like "cya" or "ttfn." This signals that the speaker is going to do something else for some time, and any listeners shouldn't expect for the speaker to pop back on. In addition there seems to be an expectation that goodbyes get feedback.

On bulletin boards?

If the bulletin board is used in an ad-hoc manner as a synchonous communciations mode, conversation closing seems to be used.

Plutor: Actually, elementary school children do the same thing.

ChasFile: That's one needless, time-wasting social convention down, just 456,809 to go.

My mentor in lingustics would point out that many aspects of "politeness" are not just empty social niceties, but a basic part of the pragmatics of the language with implications for feedback and turn-taking. Face to face communication has a rich vocabulary of gesture and utterances for this purpose. Electronic communication has managed to borrow, adapt, and invent novel feedback mechanisms and control protocols.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:45 AM on June 13, 2006


SmileyChewtrain : "Also, I have a problem ordering a 'Coke' whenever I'm at a bar or a restaurant. When they say 'Would you like something to drink, sir?' I usually say 'Ahh... I'd like a coke, please.' And they always have to ask twice, and I always have to say 'A uh, a coke? Coca-cola?' And they go 'Oh. Okay.' and look at me funny. It must be because I always forget to capitalize 'C' in 'Coke' when I ask for one."

Feisty : "Are you in a part of the country where 'coke' is synonymous with 'soda' or 'pop'?"

That's what I thought. The "dual Coke question" is very common in my home state (Texas).

Friend: "Want anything to drink?"
Me: "Do you have any coke?"
Friend: "Yeah, all kinds. What do you want?"
Me: "A Sprite."

davem : "I always used to think it was an American thing to not say goodbye at the end of a call. I based this assumption on seeing it happen in so many movies."

I don't live in the US anymore, so I can't vouch for the current way o' things, but people have been not-saying "goodbye" in movies since I was a wee sprog, and yet people always said "goodbye" (or "later", or "see ya", or the like) in real life. It was always like the "people don't use the restroom in movies" thing, where it was clearly a movie decision based on pacing. So, maybe people do or don't say it now, but if you were under the impression that people didn't say it in America at any point between, say, 1980 (which is as far back as I can remember actually talking on phones) and 1996, you were incorrect.
posted by Bugbread at 7:48 AM on June 13, 2006


nowonmai : "I have the same problem as SmileyChewtrain...Sorry about the digression, y'all, and talk to you later,"

Ok, now I'm all confused. I thought I had guessed right for a second: SmileyChewtrain's profile links to a site where it mentions that his movie is showing in Houston, Texas (of all places), and I thought "bingo!". Then you mention your difficulty, and end with the southern "y'all", and I thought "double bingo!!". But looking at the coordinates on your profiles, y'all both live up in the northeast, way away from the south.
posted by Bugbread at 7:59 AM on June 13, 2006


I always notice that! It bugs the hell out of me!
posted by agregoli at 8:02 AM on June 13, 2006


bugbread: IME depending on the nature of the relationship, "goodbye" on the phone in the U.S. can take anywhere from a second to a half-hour. Some examples:

Telemarketers: about a second. I say "goodbye" because I worked telephone research and have enough sympathy for telephone bank wage slaves to give them an explicit hangup.

Business Call: Usually "goodbye" involves at least one round of "anything else?" Then the protocol is to repeat the followup arrangement, "I'll get back to you same time tomorrow." Followed by "goodbye."

Close Friends and Family: Sometimes can have an extended series of aborted goodbyes foreshadowed by phrases like, "I should get back to..." interrupted by yet another conversation thread.

Geee, whiz. Screenwriting cuts out a lot of the verbal and non-verbal elements that are characteristic of real-life conversations. Is this news to anyone?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:11 AM on June 13, 2006


I know Germans say "auf Widerhören" hanging up the phone, but do they ever say "tschuß" like they do in person?

"Auf Wiederhören" is mighty formal. I use "Tschüss," generally. The more crucial difference to US phone manners is that you're supposed to answer the phone with your name. Just "hello" is considered rude.
posted by muckster at 8:24 AM on June 13, 2006


In the same vein, it bugs me that on tv and in movies whenever someone is listening to the radio or tv and a news report comes on with plot-important news, somebody switches it off the *instant* the sentence completes. How do they know there won't be more to the story? Nobody waits for the "... and now for the weather..." transition. Unless it's a weather disaster movie, in which case they still snap the radio or tv off without hearing the rest of forecast/bulletin/warning.
posted by cairnish at 8:33 AM on June 13, 2006


re you in a part of the country where "coke" is synonymous with "soda" or "pop"?

I actually live in NYC. Actually, I have this problem wherever I go - I think it's just a curse... The Coca-Cola Curse.

Bye!
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 8:36 AM on June 13, 2006


I found it odd that the Boston.com article theorized this as a big-city problem. For one, because Boston is roughly the size of my thumbnail (I went there for the first time recently and was shocked at how tiny it is) and also because, in NYC, we tend to do the multiple-goodbye thing. You know:

Me: Okay, I gotta run.
Friend: Yeah, me too.
Me: Talk to you later.
Friend: Later.
Me: Bye.
Friend: Bye.

And it's not just me, but everyone I talk to. I've noticed it in the npast and tried to force myself to hang up after the "later," but mentally couldn't allow myself to do it. Also, on IM, if I'm leaving, I'd feel like a total dick not saying goodbye to whoever I'm talking to. In text or bulliten boards it's different, as a continuing conversation is implied. If I were to see a real goodbye in one of these comments, for instance, I would assume no further comments on the subject from that poster.

Onto 24. The reason nobdy ever says goodbye in dramas and actioners (but can get away with it in Comedy) is partially a timing issue, yes, but has more to do with building tension and pace than with simply not letting it lag. In an ideal screenplay, every scene will begin as late as possible and end as early as possible. In most cases, if you pay attention, you won't see the end of a phone call at all, because phone-calls are notoriously anti-cinematic and a good script will set up or imply the information that would be recounted, thus making the phone call itself the action. Anyway, this is all on the timing/not losing tension side of things.

The way it builds tension is this: scripts are built out of a constant series of moments where the character does a normal action, expecting normal reactions, and instead gets something other than expected. Every phone call that Jack Bauer makes surprises the person on the other end with orders, information, or accusations. By hanging up without saying goodbye, he adds another little gap-of-expectation (apologies to McKee) to button the moment. So instead of lagging pace (and giving a sense of closure to the moment - anathema) with the goodbye, he helps it hurtle forward a bit with his professional curtness.

I'm sure this is obvious to a lot of people here, but this is why it's such an old trick. Oh, and the reason that it can work in comedy is that the focus is on the reaction shot for laughs, so it can pay to hold that for a little longer is need be.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:38 AM on June 13, 2006


And Smilychewtrain, I get the same problem in NY, but for me the problem is that if I say "Coke" I get Diet Coke. You just have to get in the habit of saying Coca-cola.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:39 AM on June 13, 2006


Social conventions change. So?

Where I live people sometimes just answer the phone saying their name. No one here complains. :P
posted by taursir at 8:55 AM on June 13, 2006


I'm with the "this is just one of the ways that movies differ from real life" crowd. Everyone I know uses closing remarks of some kind in synchronous conversations (phone, face-to-face conversation, IM, rapid-fire email). They may not use the particular word "goodbye", of course.

Also, what KirkJobSluder said.

For some reason, this reminds me of the way that, on Star Trek, the automatic doors magically know if someone's about to go through them or they're going to pause for some last remark, etc.
posted by hattifattener at 9:03 AM on June 13, 2006


Is this news to anyone?

Apparently, yes.

I would like to list some new trends America will be soon seeing:

1. No matter how well locked, a home will have a key under the welcome mat. Also, cars will always be left unlocked with the ignition key in the glovebox.

2. If youre wealthy you'll start speaking with a british accent. If you're wealthy and evil you'll start speaking with a french accent.

3. All bar/street fights will no longer last a few seconds, but will span minutes. The brawlers will also exchange witty remaks the whole time.

4. Your computer will no longer run windows, but a very cool looking UI which allows you to hack government or corporate systems by just moving your mouse around the colorful objects and typing in an easy to guess password like "secret."

All because of multitasking. Look at me, ma, I'm a Boston Globe reporter!!!
posted by skallas at 9:06 AM on June 13, 2006


When I was younger I started answering the phone like Clint Eastwood's characters: "Yeah?" I thought it was cool. My mom overheard me, though, and set me straight.

On another note, later in life I had an insane, good-humored management person in my office who would say "asshole!" after hanging up a call. Regardless of who it was. It always cracked us up.
posted by hodyoaten at 9:06 AM on June 13, 2006


And another thing: outside the world of TV and movies, does anyone say "Who is this?" in response to an unknown caller?

Yes. How else are you supposed to identify an unknown caller?

By asking "Who are you?"

Maybe it's a regional thing: in the UK, "Who is this?" refers to yourself, as if you're asking the unknown caller to tell you who you are.
posted by raygirvan at 10:00 AM on June 13, 2006


In that kind of situation, I always say "Who am I speaking with?"

Yes, yes, I know, it ends in a preposition...
posted by Bugbread at 10:10 AM on June 13, 2006


Mmmmyellow?

...

OK, I gotta go, let's both hang up at the same time.

No, you go first.

OK, I'm gonna hang up now.

...

Are you still there?

You said you were going to hang up!

OK, on three, both at the same time. One, two, ... Three!

....

You still there?

Are you?

....

OK, I'm really going this time, seriously. But you hang up first, OK?

....
posted by mattbucher at 10:43 AM on June 13, 2006


I live in the Pacific NW of the US. Never known anyone to not say "goodbye," "bye," "later deed," "peace out," or what have you.


I'm imagining this whole fast paced big-city hanging up improperly thing comes from self important twerps who watch too much television.


That said, I do endeavor to start answering my phone with "Go." or, "Talk to me." or "You've got 30 seconds..."


Maybe I'll start ending conversations with sort of a whooshing noise, like:

*rrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiinggggg*

(actually, I have this awesome V-Tech cordless phone that allows you to upload midi files as ringtones, so imagine a bad midi version of the A*Team theme song here.)

"Go."

"Uh. Hey Ian... Poker night at my house tonight, you in?"

"Roger that. pwwwwssssssssshhhhhhhhhht." *click*

"Um."
posted by stenseng at 10:55 AM on June 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Television drama isn't a documentary. As with any kind of art, the details are selected carefully to create an effect.

A person talking on an actual telephone is unlikely to say, "What's that? You say that Gloria wasn't at the nightclub when you arrived? But Victor told you that she was seen at the airport earlier that day?" (More likely this end of the converstaion would go something like, "No!.... But..... You mean, then, or later? Wait, hold it....")

But in a melodrama with the convention that we can hear only one side of the conversation, we can accept that kind of unrealistic writing, because it gets the information across more quickly -- plus we have the added value of the listener's reaction to the new information.

The telephone conversation is a pretty clunky way to tell a story anyway, really a leftover from early 20th century stage drama, so it's best to get it done with as quickly as possible.

Later.
posted by La Cieca at 11:21 AM on June 13, 2006


It's a rare thing for anyone to ever finish a drink on TV either. Especially if it's scotch poured from a crystal decanter.

And mothers are forever making full English cooked breakfasts - bacon, eggs, pancakes - only to watch their families dash out the door without eating it.
posted by Zinger at 11:27 AM on June 13, 2006


Maybe it's a regional thing: in the UK, "Who is this?" refers to yourself, as if you're asking the unknown caller to tell you who you are.

Probably is a regional thing. To me it's blindingly obvious that the only sensible referent for "this" is the other party in the conversation. But then again, language is rationalized not rational.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:48 AM on June 13, 2006


24 is ...

.. so bad.

Bye!
posted by blacklite at 12:08 PM on June 13, 2006


skallas: "Also, cars will always be left unlocked with the ignition key in the glovebox."

I hope you mean behind the windshield visor.
posted by Plutor at 12:24 PM on June 13, 2006


Here is one of those things you might not have noticed on TV, but once you see it you'll never miss it again.

When people talk on the phone they almost always hold the bottom part of the phone (the part you talk into) over their throats instead of over their mouths.

I'm sure it's so the phone doesn't cover their precious precious faces.
posted by Bonzai at 12:42 PM on June 13, 2006


Having studied screenwriting in a highly commercial, Hollywood-oriented environment, I can promise you that there is no mystique to this; it's exactly what it seems. Watching/listening to people say goodbye is boring. In fact, you'll also notice that, whenever possible, 'hello' is also avoided (for example, the person answering will begin the conversation with the name of the caller, or a question). Similarly, introductions in which people shake hands are either left out or moved through with lightning speed, and nobody ever fails to hear the words that have just been spoken to them, saying 'what?' and waiting for the words to be repeated. When these rules are broken, they are broken for a reason (or because the people making the movie/show don't know what they're doing).
posted by bingo at 1:01 PM on June 13, 2006


Démodé:
"Later!"
"'Kay, bye!"

Chic:
"Shh... [breathy pause] ...they've come for me."
*break connection*
posted by zennie at 1:07 PM on June 13, 2006


Maybe it's a regional thing: in the UK, "Who is this?" refers to yourself, as if you're asking the unknown caller to tell you who you are.
Probably is a regional thing. To me it's blindingly obvious that the only sensible referent for "this" is the other party in the conversation. But then again, language is rationalized not rational.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:48 PM CST on June 13


I'm with Kirk. It seems rather obvious that the call recipient would not be asking a metaphysical question about the nature of their own being. Given the context, it seems unmistakable. *shrug*

The coke/pop/soda thing still amuses me. Not that people say it differently, but that there are still people, often PROFESSIONAL WAIT STAFF, who are completely perplexed by it.

On cell phone calls with close friends, I have noticed I have picked up "Yeah" somewhere as a greeting, just in the last year or two. I don't watch 24 so I don't think that was it. But only cell calls, I would never say "Yeah" for a land-line. And I have no idea why the difference.

Also, in the U.S., for business it seems very common for people to answer their phone "Hello this is John" or even just the name "John Smith". But, I don't know anyone who does this for calls at home.

One of my childhood friends, they routinely answered the phone "Johnson residence". I do that only if I am answering someone else's phone.

Interesting trivia: Alexander Graham Bell wanted to use the word "Ahoy!" as a greeting for his new telephone, but it was supplanted by the word provided by Thomas Edison: "Hello".

(related askmefi thread)
posted by Ynoxas at 1:20 PM on June 13, 2006


I hope you mean behind the windshield visor.

Why would you hide the ignition key with the licence and registration (for when you're pulled over by a cop)? That's just asking for trouble.
posted by Sparx at 2:25 PM on June 13, 2006


Second the multiple-goodbyes observation. (For statistical purposes, I live in a college town with kids from all over.) My analysis is that the take cares and talk to you laters express actual relationship data, and the bye completes the protocol for phoning. Linguistically, both of them are adjacency pairs that have to be performed for the interaction to be felicitous, but each is motivated by a different need.

Where I notice a disconnect is between my habits as a landliner (cell-free by choice, baby!) and those of the cell-only crowd. I call from several different phones, and am used to the idea that any of several people can answer one phone, so when I initiate a call it goes like this: "Hi, this is eritain. Who am I speaking to?" (for a landline), or "Hi, this is eritain. Is that <name>?" (for a cell; note the use of this/that, which was a conscious choice after I noticed that I was saying this to refer to both people and it sounded dorky). Contrast with a cell user calling another one, where the initial salutations are both hey and no names are exchanged because that's what caller ID is for.

On the subject of Russians (or, in my experience, Ukrainians): You don't have to go through any particular ritual to end a call, but in the course of the call you've already done some things that serve the same purpose. For example, if you're setting a time to meet somebody, you're not done until you've both said договорились (we've agreed) in succession. Neglecting this is a great way to weird out your interlocutor and/or inadvertently cancel the meeting. On the other hand, when you've been talking face-to-face, they (like the Azerbaijani) can say goodbye for five minutes straight:
A: It's getting late. I guess I should go.
B: That's all then. Until tomorrow?
A: Until tomorrow. (Puts on shoes.) Thank you (for tea, etc.).
B: It's nothing. Come again!
A: Certainly. Till me meet again ...
B: Till we meet. All the best.
A: And the same to you. Bye!
B: Here, I'll see you to the elevator (road, bus stop, train station, next town, etc.). (Puts on shoes. They go and wait.)
A: So good to talk to you.
B: Likewise. Happiness and good health to you and your family.
A: And to all of you, every good wish.
B: Thank you.
A: Well, I'm off.
B: Happy trails.
A: Thanks. Bye now!
B: Bye!
posted by eritain at 2:37 PM on June 13, 2006


What weirds me out the most about TV and movies is how people never ever get change when they buy something.
posted by eunoia at 3:53 PM on June 13, 2006


I have a friend who *needs* to be the last to sign off of a telephone conversation.

Cool.
Ok, bye.
See ya.
Talk to you later.
Sure thing.
Take it easy.
Ok.
Ciao

me: *click*

No, he's not Azerbaijani.
posted by porpoise at 6:44 PM on June 13, 2006


"But, I don't know anyone who does this for calls at home."

I occasionally do this and then feel silly.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:51 PM on June 13, 2006


porpoise: I could very well be that friend. As could many of my friends. We are all physically incapable of saying "Bye" "Ok bye" just once. There's always at LEAST one more "later" or something afterwards.
posted by antifuse at 12:25 AM on June 14, 2006


When I lived in an apartment with a group of people and a common phone, I would answer it "People's Republic of 38" (because we were apartment #38).

Those were good times.

Answering my own cellphone "People's Republic of Grapefruitmoon" just doesn't have the same... ring... to it.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:02 AM on June 14, 2006


I don't answer my phone with "Hello" anymore, thanks to caller ID.

Which makes sense, if my medieval lit teacher is to be believed. While studying A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (of course that's not medieval lit, but we were studying both medieval lit and modern interpretations of it), she told us that the word "hello" was invented with the telephone, as a word of greeting to someone of unknown identity.

I can't find confirmation of this of course, except that according to the OED, the word wasn't printed until a good ten years after Bell's patent.
posted by lampoil at 9:27 AM on June 14, 2006


I still say "Ahoy-hoy" when answering the phone. Anything less is degeneracy.
posted by Eideteker at 1:42 PM on June 14, 2006


Eideteker: Your wikipedia link to Ahoy-hoy contained a link to the Hello wikipedia link, which states that the earliest recorded "Hello" was in 1588. The earliest recorded "hollo", which hello derived from, was in 1542. It also credits Thomas Edison as associating hello with the telephone. So maybe it wasn't used very much before the phone, and only gained popular usage again once the telephone arrived, but it definitely existed before the telephone did.
posted by antifuse at 1:05 AM on June 15, 2006


Well, if we're going to get nit-picky, let's get nit-picky. Put on your nerd hats, nerds.

The 1588 citation is not of "hello", it's of "holla." That (maybe) turned into "hallo" (1840) which turned into "hello" (1883). The citation to the online etymology dictionary on the wikipedia site is a little unclear, but the OED confirms it.

It is now safe to take off your nerd hats.

Of course now, we seem to have come full circle, and "holla" now is an interjection to be used by gay boys when a sexy man passes by. Typically in a sing-songy voice.
posted by lampoil at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2006


I would be annoyed by anyone who didn't at least signal that the phone call was coming to an end.

Them: "Hey, house is on fire, gotta go."
Me: "Ok, bye then."
*click*

In all reality though, color me in with the crowd that tends to take forever to get off the phone if the person on the other side of the call doesn't initiate it.

Me: I should go, the child is painting the dog.
Them: Yeah, you should probably put a stop to that.
Me: OMG, speaking of dogs, did I tell you who I saw at in Place X? Person Y!
Them: No way! I haven't seen him in 10 years, what's up with him?

*more minutes of convo*

Me: Oh man, the dog just shook, and now there's paint everywhere. God only knows how I'll clean it up. I gotta go.
Them: Cool! You've got Jackson Pollack walls!
Me: Hey! Valid point. This could be the start of a whole new art movement.

*more minutes of convo*

I really need more adult time outside of the house, I think.
posted by dejah420 at 11:11 AM on June 15, 2006


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