Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Please. Just Tell Me The Stinking Rule

Since hearing this simple question in conversation last week, it has done nothing but bug me: who calls whom when a phone conversation is cut off?

Just like everyone else, when a call is dropped I want to do the "right" thing, which is to say I want to do what the person at the other end of the line expects me to do. Of course, they're trying to do what they think I expect, and so the whole thing complicates quickly.

I need a convention (is there one? do I just not know about it?): the caller calls the callee, or whatever. Actually, maybe the caller should return the call because the caller is most likely to have the relevant phone numbers. Of course, cell phones generally make that a moot point.

On the other hand perhaps the callee should return the call, because the caller has already put some effort into the conversation and it's now the callee's turn. But that seems odd in the context of, say, a call to schedule an appointment at a law firm or doctor's office. You wouldn't expect the receptionist to return your call, would you?

Or, the person who spoke last could call . . . except it's often difficult to tell when a conversation broke off, and therefore who was speaking. The person who was not speaking when the call was dropped could return the call . . . but the call might not go through because other person may still be blabbing away.

What a mess. What a trivial little mess. Help.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kuru said...

3 words: Binary Exponential Backoff

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exponential_backoff

3/03/2009 9:48 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

I think we ought to put the onus on the party at fault. So if your phone is the one that says "call failed," you're the one who calls back.

3/03/2009 9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually remember reading that the Emily Post Institute says that the person who first initiated the call should re-connect it. I've told this to my sister and boyfriend and other people I frequently speak to by phone. It prevents us from both calling the other and getting each other's voicemail.

3/03/2009 5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No matter what, it will work itself out. The real answer: don't get frustrated and use to the pause to appreciate what is around you. :)

3/08/2009 4:59 PM  

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