A strange but true fact which, if completely analysed, would no doubt unearth profound insights into human psychology:

An amazing number of people seem to be scared of answering a telephone mid-ring. Perhaps because waiting until a whole number of rings have passed gives them a sense of completeness, they will rest their hand on the vibrating handset for half a second longer than necessary, waiting for the silence between rings before lifting the receiver.

Depending on the level of paranoia of the callee, they may even choose to follow this algorithm, which is guaranteed to maximise the time between answering the phone and the point at which it would ring again, as well as minimising the probability of (gasp) cutting a ring in half:

  • Walk to the phone
  • Rest hand on receiver
  • Wait through intervening silence until phone rings again
  • Lift handset as soon as possible after next ring terminates
It may only be a few wasted seconds each time the phone rings, but they all add up. So for your longevity's sake, just answer the damn phone as soon as you touch it. You'll thank me when you're older.
I do that, too. Picking up only between rings, you see. I'm not entirely sure why, but here's a theory:

Phone rings. It makes a loud noise, and shakes. I see that the handle shakes, too, so logically I assume it makes loud noise as well. Of course I won't pick up the damn handle and put it in my ear. It'd make noises in my ear! And believe me, some phones are painful enough to listen from a distance. So, I wait until it stops making noises.

As for b_o_leary's comment, well, at least here in Finland the dead line makes constant beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee[p] (it never ends so there is no 'p'), so you'd have to be really dumb to say 'Hello?' to that...

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