OLYMPIA, WA—Saying that he’s done a few trial runs already and is confident he can reach his target time soon, area father Richard Downing, 62, told reporters Thursday that he’s on track to bring the average length of a phone call with his adult son Mark down to a trim 47.5 seconds. “As of right now, my typical phone conversation with Mark usually lasts approximately 58 seconds, sometimes a few seconds more, but I’m positive that with a few crucial adjustments I can shave 10 seconds off of that average, no problem,” Downing said, noting that he’s already adopted several changes that include making only cursory inquiries into his son’s job, responding with polite, one-word answers to any questions, and outright eliminating his own updates on the progress of an ongoing basement renovation project. “Obviously, there are a few variables I can’t control, like if he actually has some important news to tell me—then that would inevitably tack on an extra half minute and skew the average. But I think if I can avoid bringing up his girlfriend and keep the when-are-you-visiting-next stuff to a minimum, we’ll already be hovering right around the 48-second mark, give or take seven or eight seconds of awkward silence until I hand the phone over to his mother.” When reached for comment, Downing’s wife, Linda, noted that she herself is implementing a battery of conversation-expanding tactics in an attempt to boost her average talk with her son up to an even 80 minutes.
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