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I was listening to Click and Clack, the Tap-it Brothers, on Minnesota Public Radio this morning. They have a habit that is strange to me, although I’ve done it myself on occasion. When they are done with a caller, one of them often says, “See you later.”

Really? Being as how this is radio, the guys can’t actually see the callers in the first  place, so saying, “See you later,” doesn’t fit. But these are also random callers from around the nation and it’s highly unlikely they’ll ever see the callers later. Even if they did manage to run into a caller later, they wouldn’t know it on sight because they don’t know what callers look like.

“See you later” is one of those turns of phrase that now stands in for “Thanks for calling,” or some other end-of-conversation nicety. I’ve caught myself saying the same thing to researchers at the museum, people from other states that I’m not likely to see later. After realizing how weird it was to say such a thing, I’ve made a concerted effort not to say it, substituting “Thanks for visiting” or “Thanks for stopping by” instead.

Have you ever found yourself saying “See you later” to people you know you won’t see later?