Book Review: Heads You Win


No, I am not reviewing a movie with this title. Nor am I politely addressing you.

I am actually disgusted these days whenever I make a phone call.

I dial the number. The phone rings. "Hello", comes the voice from the other end.
How in the world am I to figure out whom I am talking to?

If you dial a landline number, you could be talking to any one who picks the call. If it is a home number, it could be any of the family members. If it is office, any one there as well. Even if you dial a specific office extension or a direct line, it is not guaranteed that you know whom you are speaking to by just hearing "Hello".

If the caller recognises me (from the caller id, assuming I am calling from my personal phone), and says "Hello Raghu", it still may not help, unless I recognise the voice.

What I am trying to drive home here is, in India, hardly any one announces himself when he picks the phone. "Hello, this is Raghu", or "Hello, Raj here", and so on.

The caller is supposed to take the pain to find out who he is talking to. "Am I talking to Mahesh?" or "Can I talk to Jack please".

Often the answer comes "Speaking" or "This is Mahesh or Jack". Great! But am I supposed to know, especially when we are not acquaintances.

The situation is worse with cell phones, since people assume that whoever calls them must know who they are talking to. This is probably true if the receiver recognises the caller. I usually pick such calls as "Hi Umasuthan, Raghu here".

To me, announcing yourself or telling your name is the basic courtesy when answering a telephone call. I suspect this is often listed as part of "good" office conduct, or etiquette and so on. But I find it rarely practised anywhere.

So, it comes as a pleasant surprise to me, when someone does tell his/her name, when I call them. My day is done!