Another commentary from the saga of my life as a telemarket researcher. At work, we read from scripts, and have specific responses we’re to use whenever possible. Sometimes those are just not an option, but by and large they get across what we need to say quickly and easily without biasing the survey. Why is this relevant to anything? Well, no matter how much personality we include, we are stuck with a limited number of responses to things. That can make us seem somewhat robotic at times, I suppose. Calls end basically the same way, either “your comments will be very helpful to (car rental company). Thank you very much for your time (sir or ma’am), have a nice evening.” Done. Very simple, very easy, VERY repetitive. No goodbye.

Some people say bye after I’ve already said “have a good evening.” Should I then say goodbye? Technically I’ve already given a linguistic cue that I’m ending the conversation, which is the same role that goodbye fills, so there’s no real need for it. Sometimes I’ll say it anyway. Other people don’t end the conversation at all. No “have a good evening,” no “take it easy,” no “G’bye.” Just a quiet click and the line goes dead.

Really, folks? If you answer the questions with the options I present, and you don’t have any complaints (I just described at least 95% of the calls I complete), the entire survey takes about 90 seconds. I am deeply sorry that you were inconvenienced when you were at home. I hope that I don’t interrupt your dinner, or your time with your kids, or your favorite game. I hope I don’t call you when you’re driving or cooking or when you’re having sex. But please at least have the basic courtesy to give some verbal cue that you’re ending the call, because that silence hangs in the air like a sack of chicken feed. It’s heavy. It’s palpable. It’s a little bit hurtful. This isn’t an automated call. My name is Scott White, and I’m calling on behalf of (car rental company). I told you that just a minute or two ago.

On the subject of “goodbye,” when did the phrase “Goodbye” fall out of use? You know what I hear more than anything else? “Buh-bye.” You didn’t save yourself any syllables. I d-didn’t huh-huh-hear you st-st-stuttering at any other time through the call. I bet people don’t tell their friends goodbye anymore, either. I know I usually don’t. I prefer “bye,” or “Peace,” or something along those lines. I remember an old SNL skit with David Spade that had flight attendants waving people off the plane, repeating “buh bye, buh bye, buh bye, buh bye.” I’m going to make a point to say “goodbye” now. I want you all to hold me to this, I will not be stingy when it comes to wishing that people are well! That’s all for today, I suppose. Buh bye.

Okay, this might be a little harder than I initially predicted.


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