Five-minute goodbyes

“You hang up.”
“No, you hang up.”
“No, you.”
“I’ll do it when you do.”
“No you won’t. You hang up first.”

It has perhaps been countless times that I’ve encountered such a conversation on the phone. Usually, it was the other person who hung up first and I would hear the dial tone.

Then I’d feel kind of empty and sad that the other person beat me to it. And then I’d feel awful for not hanging up first and that I’d lost. Hearing the dial tone used to make me upset that I wasn’t the first to hang up. Even when we agreed to hang up at the same time, I usually waited just that split second. It’s like hearing that dial tone after they hung up made me feel like I won, but also like I had lost.

Dropped connection. It’s upsetting in many cases. Perhaps that’s why my ears don’t want to hear the noises that are associated with some kind of melancholy doom. But why did I want to hear it? Why did I feel the need to hear it?

Maybe just to know. Maybe just to know that the other person wasn’t the one hanging on. So I’d know they were safely gone, not sitting there crying on the other end or unhappy or the one feeling the way I did. I think that in knowing they had hung up, that kept me sane and gave me the satisfaction of knowing that they hadn’t hung on.

In person – I’ll be honest – I think it’s awkward. I think it’s awkward when you’ve got to run off and do your own thing and you’ve been chatting with friends, and suddenly you have to leave for whatever reason. I think there have been a few awkward moments between Ryan, Sebastian and me, when we’ve just stood there chatting and rambling on. I then get that feeling of dread that one of us has to leave and run some errands or tasks – and why is this embarrassing? I think it’s awkward. Who is going to leave first? Who is going to run off first and say, “Well, about time I head off”?

In the time I’m thinking that I’d better cook up some lame excuse to go to the bathroom and hence get away from the pair since I’ve got to go and fulfill other duties, someone else has said the same thing, making it all rather awkward again. Oh I don’t even know why it’s so awkward.

And then I look back when I walk off, sometimes. I look back wondering if my friend is watching me walk off, or looking over their shoulder too. Like the times you might get off the train and you wave to your friend through the window. Do you doubt that they’re looking back at you and watching you walk around the corner, lost to sight? Do you just not wave back, just in case you wave in the window and they’re not looking, and you make a fool of yourself? I sometimes try to take a peek before I even try and wave. Sometimes I feel like an idiot when I look back and realise my friend is totally not looking in my direction.

Then there is instant messaging, which I do not know how to explain. There’s always a bit of a need to get the last word in, even when your friend is the one leaving. I feel like there’s a bit of desperation to get the last word in, I want to be the last one to say goodbye or signal a wave in words before they hit ‘log out’.

Actually, I stopped caring. When I want to leave, I want to say goodbye. Hit escape and hit ‘log out’ before my friend catches onto me again and says another goodbye or a ‘take care’ or a ‘see you tomorrow’. I’m running away.

It’s pretty cool. Now I’m not the one waiting for the last word. I am the last word. 😛

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