Buh Bye

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My son called his mother the other day and they talked for awhile. When it came time to wrap the conversation up he said “Talk to you later,” and just hung up the phone. My wife’s ‘bye-bye’ was spoken into the disconnected emptiness and she stared at her phone in disbelief. “I hate it when he does that!” she said, annoyed. Well, lady, I’ve got news for you. There’s going to be a lot more of that kind of junk going around, just wait and see.

I’m not just talking about phone etiquette here. It’s everywhere. People have gotten so used to ending chats abruptly on their smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices that they don’t even think twice about using some of the old-fashioned common courtesies we were taught in our youth. Not only is ‘buh-bye’ gone from our vernacular, so is ‘hello’, ‘how are you’ and ‘I’ll pay for this call’. Is there even such a thing as collect calls anymore? I bet there’s only one ‘0’ operator left in the world, picking her nose and saving the nuggets between the pages of last year’s Cosmo magazine. She should meet the Maytag man. If you don’t know what I mean, you’re too young. We’ve gotten into the habit of just dropping the ball of our conversations and moving on. It’s absolutely sinister.

In the old days of TV and movies, only the bad guys didn’t say goodbye to each other.

Rat Fink: Meet you at the corner of 5th and Main.

Toe Jam: Don’t forget to bring the gun. CLICK. (the international sound of hanging up.) That’s because only the bad guys were rude enough to do that. They didn’t care. It was all about spreading evil, so forget the niceties. Now everyone does it! It’s a slippery slope to complete and utter anarchy, I tell you.

My grandfather taught me how to be polite. When he answered the phone he’d say “Harding residence. Jay speaking.” Honestly. Now days you know who’s calling you when the phone rings, and the caller knows they’re calling you. There’s no mystery any more. That’s why folks just answer the phone with “Wazzup?” I love it when I get a call from an unknown number. I’ll answer and say in a forced whisper “I did the job, but there’s blood EVERYWHERE,” and then hang up. It’s better than joining the Do Not Call Registry. Try it sometime, and just hope it’s not the police department benevolent society asking for donations.

Back in the days of party lines and rotary phones, courtesy was demanded. There was none of this “Hold on” and then sitting in silence while the person you were talking to has a half hour conversation with their homey. Hey, people were even considerate while watching TV. My grandfather was watching a murder mystery one time, and the good guy was standing around the corner leaned up against the wall with a gun in his hand, ready to jump out and take down the bad guy. The good guy didn’t know that the bad guy was sneaking up on him from behind. Not until my grandfather yelled “Look out! He’s sneaking up behind you!” Sometimes they heard, sometimes they didn’t. These days people just let the bad guy get the jump on the good guy. Pure Anarchy.

Do society a favor and start being polite on the phone and internet, ok? I could ramble and rave all day on the moral decline of the civilized world. Remember to say ‘Hello’ and ‘goodbye’. Just don’t be like some of the first-time-in-love kids from my day who would say ‘bye’ but wait for the other person to hang up. That was just stupid. I still haven’t hung up from my first girlfriend. She’s married now with five kids and eight grandkids. I heard every second of her life, and let me tell you, some of it wasn’t pretty. But by God I won’t be the one to hang up first. It’s just a matter of who lives the longest now. Just stupid. But I digress.

Be polite, say ‘goodnight’. Be a good guy and say ‘goodbye’. Just don’t forget to look behind you from time to time, because there’s nobody out there anymore to give you a head’s up.

Talk to you later…

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