Yesterday, my cell phone rang. My screen indicated that my brother Matthew was on the line.
I answered the phone as I always do: “Hello?”
My brother responded, “You always answer the phone so inquisitively!” Then he and his wife went on what can only be referred to as a 20 minute rampage against me for acting like I don’t know who is on the other end of the line when I answer the phone.
But, I am 30 years old. I’ve only known who will be on the other line for about 10 years. I spent the rest of my phone-chatting time — including junior high school and high school when I spent a significantly longer amount of time on the phone than I do now — NOT knowing who was calling.
I was taught (and by taught I mean listened to my mother, my grandmother and any other role models in my life) answer the phone as a question. And those books I’ve been reading since I was, like, four? How do you think EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IN EVERY BOOK EVER answers the phone?
TV shows. Movies. Commercials. Even newer ones!
It’s ingrained! “Hello?” means I am answering the phone, “good-bye” means I am ending the conversation. Yes, times have changed and I am sure the kids (YES I SAID THE KIDS I AM OLD SHUT UP) don’t do it this way, but in the 80s and 90s, we did.
I guess I can break the habit if I really wanted, but I rarely talk on the phone and I don’t care enough. I’m more surprised that this behavior is so shocking to my brother and sister-in-law, who were born in 1985 and 1984 respectively. Not only is it not ingrained in them, but they find it ridiculous that I continue to answer the phone this way.
So now I am wondering just how common this is. Please vote the poll below and let me know if you answer the phone with “Hello?” by habit. Edited to add: I don’t mean ‘do you answer the phone differently based on how well you know the person?’ I mean, is “hello” so ingrained that you automatically say it without thinking?
Do you think it is strange when someone answers your call with “Hello?”
And feel free to leave a comment to elaborate or tell me I’m ridiculous or tell me my brother and sister in law are silly to be surprised by this long-standing convention.