You know when you're walking towards a chap and the chap is walking towards you, it might even be a girl but they glide more than walk. Then, as you approach each other, you both veer in the same direction to avoid a collision, then you both veer the other way to overcome the problem and you make it worse. Then sometimes it happens again, you both laugh and invariably one of you cracks a joke about dancing. Something like
"Shall we dance?"
I think we're all familiar with that scenario. Well I seem to have started to do it on the phone, as weird as that sounds. It's becoming a nightmare and one of those things that just gets worse as I get more aware of it.
What happens is that I'll be having a perfectly happy and jolly conversation with someone, usually when I'm at work. Then, as we get to the end of it, that's when things go pear shaped. For so many years it's been second nature to me, this whole thing about saying goodbye, but now I'm struggling big time.
In the past I, or the other person, would have said "bye", "see you later". Then I, or the aforementioned other person, would have reciprocated. These two little bits of talking would have been done while the other on the line listened, or pretended to listen, quite happily. I suspect you get the idea, one of us talks and the other stays silent. Then the silent party talks and the talker stays silent. It's a simple concept and you may even have done it yourself.
But lately I've started going into a state of panic, as if my years and years of experience of this telephone goodbying have been forgotten and my confidence has been shattered. Frankly I'm a shadow of my former self and I don't know where to turn and how to pull myself out of the slump.
Usually the conversation goes perfectly well, unless it's my Mum of course. Then, when we go through all that is needed to go through, things like prices, giving the person a quote or saying "Mum have you tried turning off the power and turning it on again?" we get to the final few words. That traditional time to say goodbye and get on with other things.
I pause, momentarily hesitating where I used to have confidence and just go for it. That pause is fatal, like letting a dog know that you're scared. Then the other person thinks that I've paused to let them talk, so they say
"Ok bye then"
But they say it at the exact same time that I've oversome my fears and remembered my lines. At least I think so, but I'm never certain what they've said because I can only hear myself saying
"Sorry" we say in unison, partly because we're both confused and partly because rule one in one of my favourite books, "How to Speak English for the British" says that it's important to use the word at least four thousand times a day.
Rule one in another of my favourites, "How to speak English for Sri Lankans" says that the word "Aaaaah" can be used as a response to almost any question, but the intonation used can give it about fifteen different meanings, ranging from "Pardon me" to "Yes that's fine" to "No darling I wasn't asleep."
Then, just like in the walking towards each other thing, we both go for the same space again, after a brief pause. What I hear is something like
"mmm I blah then"
The mishmash of sounds, the confusion and the high pressure makes the words go funny. It's bloody annoying. Usually we go through the motions once more before there's a bit of laughter and we get the phasing correct. Eventually, after much time wasting and a bit of annoyance we bid farewell. I go off and write a post about it, the other person thinks bad things about me.
It's happening more and more.
Is it just me or does this happen to you too?
PS - Brought to you from the sunny climes of Singapore.