Mobile Traditions

When a Swedish person answers their mobile telephone, they always give their name. As in “Yes hello, this is Sven?”

This is a throwback to the days of home telephones, when the person calling might be looking for somebody else or may be high as a kite and forgot entirely who he just called and needs to be reminded.

But in the mobile world, this behaviour is pointless. Of course it is me who answers my mobile, why would it be anybody else? This is the whole point of a mobile, that it is my personal phone. Unless you are picking numbers completely at random, you will be perfectly well aware of who you are calling.

I answer my mobile in the following way: “Hello?” And even though the person calling knows who they are calling, they quite often ask, in a timid voice: “Um, hello, is this XXX?” And I feel like saying, “Why yes it is, who the fuck else did you expect, Larry King?”

In Ireland you answer the phone in this way, with a cheesy “Hello?” You assume the person calling has the intelligence to work out that if they called Tammy’s mobile, then it will be Tammy who answers. I am working to introduce this lean, efficient system in Sweden, partly to save time, partly because I think the Swedish way is stupid and outdated, but mainly to make the person on the other end of my mobile flustered and irritated, and making people flustered and irritated is, of course, what I do best.

/ paddy


11 thoughts on “Mobile Traditions

  1. I have to answer with my name, since unfortunantly, it might be a customer calling. :\
    Ofcourse I just say ‘Daniel’, and expect them to figure out the hello without my saying it.. So I suppose it is still just as fast.

  2. Jag tycker det är artigt att säga sitt namn när det är ett “okänt nummer” på displayen. Om det är ett nummer jag har i telefonboken så svarar jag förstås t ex “hej Micke!” förutsatt att det är Micke som ringer förstås och det brukar göra de flesta glada.

    Jag tyckte redan för 35 år sedan eller så att det var ohyfsat av irländare, engelsmän och alla andra som hade samma ovana, att svara bara just “hallå” – som de gjorde långt innan både mobiler och nummerpresentatörer var uppfunna!

  3. Yes, I know!! It makes life so interesting and fine.

    And you may notice that the “politeness” of most Swedish people does not improve just because they answer their mobile by giving their names…

  4. Hi Paddy, I’m one of those who answer my phone ( not mobile) with a simple ‘hello’ but then ofcourse I live in England. However, I can remember a time ( yes, I’m pretty old :) when I answered with the name of the telephone exchange followed by the number. Great days!

    Lillan ( a Swede in Cornwall)

  5. I have a personal crusade against an infuriating Costa Rican custom whereby an individual calls my home telephone number, and I answer it (with the Spanish equivalent of “hello”) and then the person *who just dialed MY number* asks “who is this?”

    It’s not like there are that many choices – you dial my phone number, you get me or my husband…we’re not running a boarding house here.

    How can that ever be considered acceptable behavior? And I can’t even be rude to them (OK, not that I would be) because, like Daniel says, it could be a client. But I *can* counter them by asking who they are trying to reach.

    (I can actually kind of accept it when it happens on the mobile because my husband almost always carries it, so his friends & clients do get confused when I have it for the day.)

  6. The custom alluded to by Lillan is completely incomprehensible. Some older Swedish people answer the phone by rattling off their phone number. What is the idea? If I’ve misdialled, then I’m more likely to realise this if the person would just tell me who they are. I always get the feeling that I’m talking to a paranoiac who doesn’t want to gived me any unnecessary information about themselves.

  7. but in Sweden we have a stupid mental tradition of letting our 3-yearold kids answer the phone instead of us.

    “Heeeeellllooooo…there……want to….. speak…. to……daddy ….?…..”

    And real slow, so that the caller will have to pay heaps for the phonecall.
    Next time, folks, have some empathy for the people calling, please.

  8. kaxiga Z said
    July 19th, 2007 at 10:10 am

    “but in Sweden we have a stupid mental tradition of letting our 3-yearold kids answer the phone instead of us. “Heeeeellllooooo…there……want to….. speak…. to……daddy ….?…..”

    In Australia, we do this to telemarketers who want to sell us time-share, or a new mobile phone or a …. As soon as you hear “Hello, this is Ahmed from , can I speak to Mr ….” the phone gets handed straight to the nearest young child: preferably one still desperately trying to master the art of making rude sounds with their tongue and lips.

  9. @ Jennifer, that’s really common in Brazil. Annoying isn’t the word, heard an explanation for it once, but can’t remember now, didn’t make much sense.

    @ Martin, that’s the way we were taught to do it in school (Ireland), not so long ago …………..

    But, yeah none of it makes that much sense

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