The awkward credit card mm hmm pause

World, I move that we agree on a new rule: If you are reading a phone number or a credit card number to a person writing it down, you can just read it. You don’t have to wait for the listener to say “uh huh” after every three or four numbers.

I’m often the “listener” in this situation, writing down these long strings of numbers. And usually it’s not a big deal — I can write pretty fast. But sometimes it goes like this.

Person on phone: “The number is 1234 … (pause)”
Lia: (waiting) (waiting) “Mm hmm.”
Person on phone: “xx78”
Lia: “Wait a second, I missed the first two numbers.”
Person on phone: “12”
Lia: “No, I have 1234 and then something something 78. Let’s start again.”

I waited too long to say “mm hmm” and so then my gutteral confirmation blocked their next numbers.

Sometimes readers speed through their numbers, and that’s not good either, but at least we’re not waiting for a “yep” or a “got it” from me. I can always read the number back to them.

So here’s my suggestion to everyone. When reading your long string of numbers, first ask, “Are you ready?” When the listener says yes, go ahead with your number at a steady pace, stopping for a quick instant between each string of numbers.

1234 – 5678 – 9012 – 3456.

In fact, this rule already exists with the very advent of these dashes. A quick pause in a number. Otherwise, we’ll have:

Person: “1234. Do you have that right?”
Lia: “Yes, I got 1234. What’s the next set?”
Person: “5678. It’s the set that came after 1234, did you get that one too?”
Lia: “Mmm hmm.”
Lia: (waiting)
Person: “Oh, me again. 9012.”
Tumbleweed: (rolls by)
Lia: “Yep, I’m caught up so far. Can’t wait to hear the ending!”
Person: “3456. Do you want to repeat that back to me?”

Here’s wishing everyone lots of clear and accurate strings of numbers!


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