At work, as soon as I hear the distinctive bell tone that precedes the phone line being opened, I've trained myself to chime in with 'Hi, This is..." or 'Hello, may I please speak with..." It is practically involuntary. However, hearing the bell tone only proceeds the line being put through, whether it hooks me up to a ringing phone, an answering machine, or a busy signal.

Sometimes, I start saying 'hi' or 'hello' before I realize am not actually talking to a human being and I instinctively cut myself off before I'm finished with the first syllable. So I just go 'hhh' or hhheh.' Try it yourself. Take a deep breath and start to say 'Hello' but cut yourself off to see what it sounds like. It makes me laugh every time without fail because it sounds so bizarre. Laughing quietly to myself probably earns me even more weird points to anyone who is observing me, but I really don't care.

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