First she addresses you by your first name in an email. Then you speak on the phone and she says to “leave it with me darlin’”. So far so sweet. And then, the final insult: she (for it is always a she, somehow) signs off her latest message with an x after her name.
Now it would be fine if you knew or had even met this person. But a recruitment consultant trying to find you a job, or an estate agent trying to sell your house? You wouldn’t kiss them hello in person, so why is it that the innocent x is becoming more and more a feature of exchanges with a certain type of person?
Is the rise of texting to blame? Since we don’t need to sign off with our name (since the recipient presumably has it stored in his or her phone), an x is a convenient way to end the message. Or is it the more grown-up version of the dreaded emoticon? Or is it just today’s equivalent of the circle above the i, so beloved of secretaries and other owners of pink biros?