2158: Qualifiers

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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[20 minutes later] ", hi."
Title text: [20 minutes later] ", hi."


This comic shows how qualifiers, which are usually used when the person speaking is concerned about offending their conversational partner, may also be used to delay saying something when a person is nervous or loses their train of thought momentarily. Again, this is a comic related to social interactions and especially displaying that Cueball/Randall has problems coping with simple social norms.

In this comic, Cueball is talking with White Hat. Cueball has lost his original train of thought during a conversation, so he keeps using qualifiers until he comes up with something to say. Here he has used more than a dozen common qualifiers, including "OK", "so", "listen", "like", and "but". The title text says that after 20 minutes he says "hi", a reversal of expectations and a comedic play on how there was a huge buildup to something insignificant. He simply couldn't think of something new to say, and "hi" was the best he could come up with. White Hat presumably kept listening, although normal people would stop Cueball well before this.[citation needed]

While this scenario has probably happened to many people some time in their life, it is highly unlikely that one would keep on for such an extensive amount of time. It is also highly unlikely that the listener would have such patience to keep listening to this endless stream of qualifiers, although it actually fits in White Hat's unusual mentality.


[Cueball is standing next to White Hat.]
Cueball: Ok, so, listen, the thing is, well, like, I'm just saying, and maybe it's just me, but, I mean, here's the thing, I could be way off here, but, look, I gotta say,
[Caption below the panel:]
When I forget what I was going to say, I just keep prefixing qualifiers until I think of something new.

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I'm not entirely sure he's "run out of" qualifiers after 20 minutes per se. It may just be that he has finally decided what he wanted to say was "hi" and he otherwise may have still gone on with additional qualifiers (potentially even repeating some of them since there is no indication that they must be unique). 16:49, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

I agree. Given the punch line of the main comic, the message "hi" is probably just the first applicable message Cueball came up with. Don't get me wrong, hear me out on this, I know everything is subjective, I'm not an expert or anything, correct me if I'm mistaken, anything is possible, I've been wrong before, Lord only knows, life is funny, your mileage may vary, I can't believe I'm saying this, it's just an impression I get, it could be any other explanation, maybe the jury is still out on this, but I don't think there's any practical limitation to gratuitous preamble or equivocation. I think when it's done professionally that's called politics.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 01:30, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
When has a politician ever said "correct me if I'm mistaken" or "I've been wrong before"..? 15:03, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
In my experience, politicians seem to prefer phrases such as "I am not a scientist, ~" or "You'll have to ask [Person\s] about [specifics], but ~". ProphetZarquon (talk) 22:27, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
Hi, I just wanted to say, apropos of nothing, probably, that, IMO (YMMV!) and FYI, there's not necessarily even that much content in the "Hi", either. 14:50, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
It’s been three years and he used “but” twice. But, like, what I was gonna say was, well, so, now, I gotta know…TenGolf MathHacker (talk) 20:05, 15 November 2023 (UTC)

"although it actually fits in White Hat's unusual mentality." I disagree. All of the xkcd figures usually think a little outside the box; that's why it's funny. I haven't seen anything anywhere suggesting that White Hat is the type to listen endlessly either. Thoughts? That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 20:46, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

Aren't all white hats rule-obsessed compulsives with completion fixation?
ProphetZarquon (talk) 01:30, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

I removed the "good" from in front of patience because, well, when is patience a bad thing? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 11:42, 4 June 2019 (UTC)

The word you are looking for is hesitation. Still agree, that the good in that place was not needed. --Lupo (talk) 11:52, 4 June 2019 (UTC)
If White Hat was delayed for 20 minutes in getting to an appointment to operate a food line for the homeless, then maybe his patience in this particular case was not as good. But in general patience is a virtue.... but just WHERE IS the next XKCD already?! -boB (talk) 15:52, 5 June 2019 (UTC)

Thinking further about this comic (while waiting for today's new comic...), it seems to be another in a long series of comics from Randall about social awkwardness. I have experienced this before myself, and it's not easy to admit to someone that you forgot what you wanted to say. In this situation, it would probably be better to just tell the other person that you lost your train of thought, apologize, laugh a little, then move on. However, in this case Cueball seems reluctant to admit that he forgot what he was going to say and would rather yammer on with random qualifiers instead, waiting for something else to say. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 16:38, 5 June 2019 (UTC)