PDA

View Full Version : I'll call you back



Maciamo
10-03-16, 15:39
One of the most common sentences used in Hollywood movies and series is "I'll call you back". Typically this happens when someone is one the phone and is interrupted by another person walking in his/her office. What I find amazing is that I have never hanged up the phone on someone just saying "I'll call you back", and I can't remember seeing anyone else do that either. That's pretty abrupt. The polite way would be to explain to the other person why you are suddenly ending the conversation. You don't just say "I'll call you back" and hang up. At least not here. So I am wondering if that is an American thing, and if that's just a liberty taken by Hollywood to save time and concentrate the action on what's important to the viewers ? Could American members here confirm if that's something people do on a regular basis ?

Angela
10-03-16, 17:34
I've never thought about it, Maciamo. I'll have to pay attention from now on.

I have call waiting on my phone which lets me know when someone is calling. If it's some unimportant call I usually ignore it. If it's my children, I'm the anxious mother type, so I normally would say something like..."Sorry, that's my son, I have to take it. May I call you right back?" It would be the same if it were a doctor or the Cable company for whom I'm waiting or something like that. Obviously, if it's the hospital or something I wouldn't take the time for any niceties and I might just say, "I'll call you back".

It would be the same if the doorbell rang. I would probably say, "There's someone at the door. May I call you back?"

As I'm typing, it occurs to me that the lack of an explanation might be a "younger" thing. Their manners are atrocious. Of course, increasingly they don't really "talk" on the phone. It's all text, and they're extremely rude to each other from what I could see when I still snooped on my children's conversations. :)

Maleth
10-03-16, 18:21
If example you have a friend just chitty chatting on the landline and your mobile phone rings with what you think is an important call, its very normal to say 'I will phone you back' with confidence and get the other call. Sometimes they themselves say ok I go get that call we speak later or something like that. I dont think there is a set rule just depends on the circumstances

sparkey
10-03-16, 21:22
In my experience, "I'll call you back" and then an immediate hang up without an explanation or at least an "OK?... OK." would normally imply an emergency. If not, it's considered rude, even here in California where very little is considered rude.

Maciamo
10-03-16, 22:39
I've never thought about it, Maciamo. I'll have to pay attention from now on.

I have call waiting on my phone which lets me know when someone is calling. If it's some unimportant call I usually ignore it. If it's my children, I'm the anxious mother type, so I normally would say something like..."Sorry, that's my son, I have to take it. May I call you right back?" It would be the same if it were a doctor or the Cable company for whom I'm waiting or something like that. Obviously, if it's the hospital or something I wouldn't take the time for any niceties and I might just say, "I'll call you back".

It would be the same if the doorbell rang. I would probably say, "There's someone at the door. May I call you back?"

The examples I had in mind is when someone is on the phone in their office and another person walks in, prompting the person on the phone to say "I'll call you back". But it's true that it also happens when there is another call waiting - a function that I never use (because I don't like being interrupted in the middle of a conversation). Hollywood loves to use the juggling with a second call function to cause awkward situations when the person doesn't switch properly to the other caller and inadvertently says something they shouldn't to the wrong person.

Another thing I never do is answer a fixed phone assuming I know who is calling and speaking immediately without making sure who is at the other end of the line (even if it's someone who has just called three times in a row or whose call you've been expecting). I am not sure again if Hollywood uses that so often because it's a convenient way to make people say things they shouldn't, or if many Americans really do behave so carelessly.


As I'm typing, it occurs to me that the lack of an explanation might be a "younger" thing. Their manners are atrocious. Of course, increasingly they don't really "talk" on the phone. It's all text, and they're extremely rude to each other from what I could see when I still snooped on my children's conversations. :)

In the series I have been watching it isn't kids who are talking like that, but professionals like lawyers, FBI agents, politicians and the like. In the same situation I would ask the visitor to wait until I have finished my call.

Maciamo
10-03-16, 22:44
If example you have a friend just chitty chatting on the landline and your mobile phone rings with what you think is an important call, its very normal to say 'I will phone you back' with confidence and get the other call. Sometimes they themselves say ok I go get that call we speak later or something like that. I dont think there is a set rule just depends on the circumstances

But why? You could finish your first call, then call back the person who called you on your mobile, as you have the number anyway. If it's a hidden number, you can't know if it's more important than your current call (it might just be telemarketers). If it's really urgent the person whose call you didn't take will send a text message, which you can read while you are on the phone on the other line. Otherwise they can wait a few minutes.

I also don't understand why people rush toward their mobile phone when it's ringing in another room. If you can't answer it in time, you just call back a few seconds later. No need to get stressed up. I think that's a mindset inherited from the age of old landlines with no caller ID.

LeBrok
10-03-16, 23:02
But why? You could finish your first call, then call back the person who called you on your mobile, as you have the number anyway. If it's a hidden number, you can't know if it's more important than your current call (it might just be telemarketers). If it's really urgent the person whose call you didn't take will send a text message, which you can read while you are on the phone on the other line. Otherwise they can wait a few minutes.

I also don't understand why people rush toward their mobile phone when it's ringing in another room. If you can't answer it in time, you just call back a few seconds later. No need to get stressed up. I think that's a mindset inherited from the age of old landlines with no caller ID.
That's because you are a geek like me. When I'm concentrated on a task at hand, could be a telephone call, there world can end around us but we shouldn't be bothered with this. However most people are different, they are more social and they are more emotional. They need to know right away who is calling and why on a second line. They usually spend more time on a phone chatting for hours. In this case their phone calls are not that important not to be interrupted.
There is also a different issue when we are talking about professional people like FBI or a real estate agents. The next call could be of most importance, a new lead on crime or a sell deal, therefore warrants interrupting ongoing conversation.

Angela
11-03-16, 18:56
The examples I had in mind is when someone is on the phone in their office and another person walks in, prompting the person on the phone to say "I'll call you back". But it's true that it also happens when there is another call waiting - a function that I never use (because I don't like being interrupted in the middle of a conversation). Hollywood loves to use the juggling with a second call function to cause awkward situations when the person doesn't switch properly to the other caller and inadvertently says something they shouldn't to the wrong person.


In the series I have been watching it isn't kids who are talking like that, but professionals like lawyers, FBI agents, politicians and the like. In the same situation I would ask the visitor to wait until I have finished my call.

It all depends on the circumstances. I was speaking of situations at home. I could and can cook a whole meal, or iron a basket of clothes while talking on the phone to my mother or a cousin or a good friend. :) Between work and children and intellectual pursuits, I had to fit my social life into the nooks and crannies of my life. I can remember keeping the phone crammed between ear and shoulder. Better technology made it easier. Perhaps it's difficult for men to understand it, but those calls could go on for an hour or more. Call waiting was essential. Maybe a child missed the late bus, or someone could get into an accident, or you're waiting for a call back from the electrician or doctor or whatever. Or maybe you just had a very demanding husband who would get totally bent out of shape if you didn't immediately pick up his call. :) He was the same at work. If the phone rang more than four times somebody got dressed down or even fired.

Work is different and it also depends what kind of work you're doing. The time pressures, competitiveness, even the "office atmosphere" of a certain company can affect it. Area of the country can affect it too. I think quickly, speak quickly, react quickly by nature, but it was also the atmosphere everywhere I worked. Patience isn't natural to me. When I had to deal with clients from Atlanta I can remember getting so frustrated at how slowly they talked, and, I believed, thought, that I sometimes felt like jumping into the phone and dragging the words out of their mouths. :) There's an expression where people say get it done in a "New York minute". That's a lot faster than a Georgia minute, or even a California minute!

If you're an associate in a very high pressure Northeast law firm working on a big deal, and a partner walks in while you're having a mundane conversation with the printing department you would absolutely NOT take the time to finish the conversation. You might indeed say, I'll get back to you, ok, hang up, and look very eager. :) If you're working on a big case, and important information is brought to your desk or comes up on the computer screen, you might not take the time to explain to the person on the phone why you can't continue the conversation. The "work status" of the people involved also affects how you behave. If you're on the phone with the client, or a partner, or your boss, unless the building is on fire you're not going to interrupt the call. I'd go ballistic if some secretary or new associate were to come in and interrupt me with some irrelevant nonsense while I was on an important call. Sometimes they're even conference calls, which are really meetings. On the other hand, I've been known to "fib" and pretend my secretary just came in or even told the secretary to interrupt me to get rid of some nuisance on the phone.

I actually do remember one situation involving someone with whom I had to work but who was not directly under my control who had called me two or three times in a row, hectoring me about when I would give him my decision. The last time I hung up on him because he'd gotten profane. The phone rang again within a second or two. I picked up the phone and barked that I'd let him know as soon as possible dammit, and that if he called me one more time I'd....well, you can imagine. It turned out to be my section chief. He was a good guy though, and no shrinking violet himself, plus we had to deal with some pretty rough characters, so he said something like, yeah, right, you and who else, and laughed. I probably weighed 118 pounds soaking wet. :)

As for these police procedurals, they're all unrealistic to some degree or another. One that's pretty darn close to the real deal for local law enforcement is a show called Law and Order, either the regular show or the special victims unit, especially the earlier years.

Maciamo
11-03-16, 19:38
Thanks for all your answers. Angela, the competitive New York office atmosphere you describe may be one of the most important factors.