IT IS important to say goodbye.
Don't for a moment think I am talking about addressing the old year.
What could I not give about that? Correct: a hoot.
I am talking principally about saying goodbye in American television dramas. I am happy, furthermore, to extend the discussion to the foreshortened "bye".
Listen up: I have just been watching an American TV series — Mad Men, the sophisticated show that somehow gets more simplistic with each repeat viewing — and am now considerably irritated at the way a character does not respond when someone says goodbye to them.
They never say goodbye back. In most American shows, they just don't bother or don't have the decency to reciprocate. What is that about? If you said goodbye, or in Scotland "chooroh", to someone and they just sat there saying nothing, you would think they were in a huff with you and that you had done something wrong.
Why don't American characters say goodbye back? Do the scriptwriters forget to write it in? Or do they think it unnecessary? Of course, it is necessary. I can't willingly suspend my disbelief about people who do not say goodbye back.
Then there's the phone. Americans do not say bye on the phone either. Neither party says it. The only way they know the conversation is ended is because the other person puts the phone down.
How is that supposed to work? How do we know the other person has not gone in a huff and slammed the phone down? Okay, Scotland is a land of huffs, and perhaps we are over-sensitive about them.
But I believe my objection is universal and would be backed by all right-thinking men and other persons in a variety of hemispheres.
Do Americans in reality-style life not say bye on the phone? I have phoned people in America several times, only ever for professional reasons — even the CIA once — and recall pointedly saying bye at the end of the conversation, thus hoping to civilise them. I am sure they reciprocated, even if the CIA added: "Remember, we will kill you. And Alistair, your beloved budgie."
I don't think it is a question of manners. It is just custom. But among decent people it is only practical to signal the end of a telephonic conversation or, if someone says goodbye to you, only proper to say goodbye back instead of just sitting there like a lemon.
Anyway, as we end 2013, I say unto you: chooroh. Your turn now.
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