Goodbye, My Only Friend. (Oh, Did You Think I Meant You?)

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WARNING: This post contains things like the F-word, the S-word, and scores of other words—hundreds of them, in fact—that start with a variety of letters from A-Z. If words that start with any of the letters of the alphabet offend you, I’d skip this.

You know how sometimes in a film when two people are on the phone, they exchange information and then one of them just sort of hangs up without saying “goodbye” or  “cheers” or “thank you for this information” or “go fuck yourself” or ANYTHING? They just click!— drop the receiver into the cradle with no fanfare. (Metaphorically, of course, because anyone who still owns a phone like that probably has the ringer turned off and hides it in their sock drawer next to their vibrator.) Why can’t we do that in real life? (Hanging up on people, that is; not reverting back to phones that weigh ten pounds and require you to turn a crank to get a dial tone.)

Here’s what used to happen at the end of a conversation: I said “goodbye,” then you said “goodbye,” and then we performed the time-honored, socially accepted ritual of simultaneously hanging up on each other. I’ve gotten a lot of grief in years past for saying “goodbye” and then hanging up the phone before the other person has a chance to do likewise. My mother, in particular, calls this “rude” but, in my opinion, it’s not like it’s any big mystery what she’s going to say next. I mean, is it really, truly necessary that I hang out for a few more seconds to register her two-syllable valediction?

In my mind, what I do isn’t any different than saying “How are you doing today?” when one is walking past an acquaintance. Do you stop in your tracks and wait for them to say “I’m good” or “Fine, how are you?” before walking on? Of course you don’t! Everyone understands that your question is complete bullshit, because you don’t actually care how they’re doing today at all. In fact, if they were to stop you and start regaling you with how crappy their day’s going, THEY would be considered the rude party by breaking the unspoken but understood social contract of not really giving a shit.

In the last year, I’ve noticed a real breakdown in etiquette in the form of people who simply don’t know how the fuck to hang up the phone. It’s like everyone suddenly has the worst case of Asperger’s ever, and the tone of voice and all those special words you would normally use to signal your desire for them to go away—“Well, I’d better get going…” “Hey, I’m heading out the door, so…” or the time honored falsetto tone of “♫♪Alright then, I guess I’ll let you go now…♪♫”—have somehow transformed into invitations for them to keep right on yakking.

The worst offenders are customer service reps. Now, I’m a huge proponent of excellent customer service, but the clingy, fawning people I’ve dealt with of late have me pining for the days when some grumpy, apathetic bitch on the other end of the line made it crystal clear that she wasn’t getting paid enough to care about your problem, and that you were wasting her time and interrupting her fucking smoke break. Here’s the end of a conversation I had this morning with a rep at my health insurance company. Please note how long it takes for her to actually go away.

good dayMe: “Okay, well thank you so much for your help, Sharon; I think I have everything I need now.”
Rep: “Good, good! Here at Up Your Ass and In Your Business Health Insurance, we pride ourselves on ensuring that you have all the tools necessary in order for you to access the care you need, Ms. Lortonhearsawho.”
Me: “Well, I definitely feel like I have the tools I need, so…”
Rep: “And if you have any further questions or concerns, Ms. Lungsporium, don’t hesitate to call the 1-800 customer service number. Do you have that number?”
Me: “You mean the one I just dialed to speak to you?”
Rep: “Yes, ma’am, that number is 1-800-555-1234 in case you don’t have it. There’s also a local Colorado number you can call. Would you like that local number, Ms. Leviathan?”
Me: “No, I think I’m good. Thanks again for your help.”
Rep: “Thank you, Ms. Luftansabrien; you have a nice weekend.”
Me: “I will. Bye.”
Rep: “And have a good rest of your day AND a good weekend.”
Me: “I’ll try to do that, thank you.”
Rep: “And thank you for calling Up Your Ass and In Your Business Health Insurance, Ms. Lexluthorian. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
Me: “No.”
Rep: “Okay then, thank you again for calling. Buh-bye.”

Seriously, I’ve had shorter conversations with weepy, stalker ex-boyfriends trying to rekindle our relationship. In short, why can’t we all just do like in the movies and hang up on each other once we’ve said what we need to say? Then the above conversation would’ve sounded like this:

Me: “Okay, well thank you so much for your help, Sharon; I think I have everything I need now.” [Click]

shutterstock_13940932See? It would have saved everyone sixty seconds and about 300 words. And frankly, it’s uncomfortable talking to a stranger who seems so personally invested in my happiness that she’s foaming at the mouth over her desire for me to  have both a good day and a good weekend. Plus, although etiquette requires me to promise that I will have a good day/weekend/year/life, I’m almost certainly lying through my teeth, because the odds are really excellent that my day’s already spiraled into a massive clusterfuck from which there’s no hope of recovery. Having a perfect stranger order me over and over to turn things around isn’t likely to succeed without a fairy godmother and a pub crawl.

After I finally got rid of the sticky booger of a phone rep today, I started thinking about creative ways I could signal my intent to disconnect in the future. By altering a few of the lyrics in Jonathan Coulton’s “Want You Gone” (the delightful song that plays as the credits roll at the end of the video game Portal 2), I plan to serenade my next just-can’t-say-goodbye caller by busting out this sprightly little ditty:

♫♪ Goodbye my only friend
Oh, did you think I meant you?
That would be funny if it weren’t so sad

You’ve got more calls to make
That’s what I’m counting on
I’ll let you get right to it
Now I only want you gone
Now I only want you gone
Now I only want you gooooooone…♫♪ 

For those who can’t carry a tune or who find themselves short on time, I can attest that a swift, no-nonsense CLICK! works just as well as it does in the movies.

And now I just want to thank you all for reading this post, because I know there are thousands of blogs that you can choose from.  And I really hope you have yourself a nice day, okay? You take care of yourself and enjoy your weekend. And make sure you get outside because I hear it’s going to be sunny all weekend. And if your existence is ever anything short of 24/7 orgasmic butterflies, you just give me a call, because here at ellelothlorien.com, we take pride in making sure—

CLICK.

4 Comments

  • Mary O’Keefe Kellogg Reply

    Love it!
    My current bugabo involves the callers pushing me to install (their) solar panels or change my gas/electricity provider. The only way to move them past the text they’re reading is to interrupt and hang up.
    On really bad days I tell them they’re interruping my cooking and that the sauce is burning. (A mortal sin in France!)

    • Elle Lothlorien Reply

      Bottom line: if I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer it, especially after big companies adapted to caller ID by abandoning 800-type numbers for numbers using the area code of the unsuspecting callee in order to get us to answer. Dumping all those voicemails before they overload my phone is a pain in the ass though. :/

  • Mark Bouton Reply

    Elle, you really know how to tell a story, and you especially have a talent for sprinkling (liberally) into the discourse a wonderfully appropriate and fiery and time-honored compilation of swear words that add such verisimilitude to the situations and discussions you describe. I’m sure your many fans are very happy you became a PAID author. Keep up the great work. We enjoy hearing your thoughts. Mark

    • Elle Lothlorien Reply

      Thanks, Mark. I’m looking to personally impressing you in October with my masterful command of swear words. 😉

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