When you say nothing at all

24 September 2014

Something interesting I observed when on the phone with people in America…

I had to call the hotel’s internet service provider to re-register my Apple TV’s MAC address with them, and as you may know, the MAC address consists of a long string of letters and numbers like 02:0a:95:9d:65:16

After reading off a couple of numbers and letters, I paused for a sign of confirmation, like I always do.

But there was no reply. Not a sound.

I waited a while more, but there was nothing but silence. Did he hear me? Did he not hear me? Is the line dead? I wouldn’t know the difference.

I went “Hello?” and the person replied. So he was still on the line after all!

I repeated what I said earlier, this time pausing just slightly and continued reading the moment I realized I wasn’t going to get a response. I don’t want to go through that awkward silence again! And apparently that’s how it’s done because after I finished, he started speaking normally again.

This was not a one-off incident, because in another phone call to the car rental company, I had to again read off numbers.

Again, I rattled off the numbers to an abyss of silence…

IT’S SO WEIRD! I’ve always thought it courtesy or common sense to let the person on the other end know that you’re still on the line because your voice is the only form of feedback available to the other person!

I mean, for all I know, he could be struggling to find a pen. Maybe there was timely static that interfered at the exact moment I read the numbers and it blocked out my words. Maybe he had a really itchy armpit that needed relief and he missed what I said when he raised his arm for a quick scratch.

Well, except nothing, of course.

I’m guessing they go with the “I’m silent because I’m listening” rather than the “I’m acknowledging because I’m listening” approach. For all I know, they think I’m the nutjob when I acknowledged what they said lol.

It’s interesting how cultural differences catch me in little ways like this! (yeah… I can say it’s interesting now that I’m removed from the situation. At that moment I just wanted to hang up the phone -_-)

This definitely taught me to rethink norms. What is natural to one might be entirely nonsensical to someone else.

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