It’s called a conference call because there are other people on the line…

I’ve got to be honest – after four consecutive nights of moderate to fairly intense alcohol consumption, it may be beyond my capacity this morning to actually write paragraphs and organize them into some sort of cohesive concept. Instead let me just share some of the random snippets I’ve jotted down for my hall of fame of conference calls. Let this be a reminder to us all that conference calls can be deceptive. Just because you are sitting at home alone in your underpants at 10:00 at night with a glass of wine dialing into a global call, that doesn’t mean you can act like you are all alone.

Sample One: Mute Fail

Host 1 – “I can’t believe we have to stay late just to run a call for Asia. Why can’t those assholes just dial into the regular call we have with Europe?” (side note: because the other call takes place at 1:00 in the morning in some parts of the region and runs well over an hour)

Host 2 – “Um, I think everyone can hear you…”

Host 1 – “No, I put all their lines on mute so they can’t interrupt the presentation, all they will hear is silence until we are ready to go.”

Host 2 – “So they are on mute. But you aren’t… ”

Host 1 – “Fuck … … So good morning everyone, I think we are just about ready to go, our first  presenter this morning will be…”

Sample Two: Bad Aim

Team Member 1: “Hey everyone, I may be in and out here a bit as I need to help put my kid to bed.”

Host: “Not a problem, we understand it’s late in the evening for you.”

Team Member 1: “Thanks, I’ll try to keep … no… no… god! Aim it INTO the toilet, you are getting it all over the wall!!! Dammit!”

Host: “Um, {name not disclosed}, you might want to go ahead and mute your phone while you take care of that.”

Sample Three: Deductive Reasoning

Midway through a call with representatives from several countries attending, hold music begins to play when someone dialing in from their cell phone puts the call on hold. We are puzzled for a moment until the recorded voice comes on in Mandarin asking us to please wait before returning to more music. A few moments later the music stops.

Host: “Uhh, {name not disclosed}, if you need to go, please just drop the call and dial back in later instead of putting us on hold. Your phone system plays hold music onto the conference call and we can’t hear each other.”

{Name not disclosed}: “It was not me. I have been here the whole time. It was someone else, I think.”

Host: “You are the only person on the call from China. The hold music had someone speaking Chinese. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t someone from Japan or India. We know it was you. Please just don’t put us on hold again.”

{Name not disclosed}: “Oh. Um … just a minute… …” (hold music begins playing again…)

Sample Four: Only the Lonely

Caller: “Hey, I’m sorry I’m going to need to put my line on mute, my kids are making a lot of noise in the background here, so if anyone asks me anything, just give me a minute to take the mute off before I answer.” (side note, we had not heard anything in the background of the call to this point)

As the call continues it becomes clear that the caller had not managed to hit the mute button on their phone. We hear faint music, and some unintelligible dialogue and we assume he has turned on the TV. It quickly becomes clear though when the dialogue fades out and is replaced by screams and moans that we are being treated to the audio track of the caller’s favorite internet porn…

Host: “Umm, hey I’m not sure what you’ve got going on over there, but the noise is disturbing the call. Hello? Whoever has their TV on could you please drop from the call… Hello?”

Caller (somewhat short of breath): “Oh Shit! Shit!” and the call drops…

Sample Five: Minor distractions

This one still hasn’t been fully explained to me. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions as to what actually happened. The caller involved was dialing into a conference call from a hotel lobby bar after stepping out of a dinner event to call us.

Caller: “Um, hang on guys, I think I’m about to get punched.”

We hear him put his cell phone down on a table or bar top. We hear loud voices including quite clearly the phrase “Fuck off, I wasn’t staring at her!” We hear the sound of glass breaking. Another loud shout. And the sound of the phone being picked up again.

Caller (in a calm, unperturbed voice): “Sorry about that fellas. Now where were we? 3rd quarter forecast?”

So there you have it… five of my favorites from the conference call hall of fame. And now, if you don’t mind I’ve got some very important calls I need to prepare for this afternoon…


About Mark

Not as grumpy as everyone assumes I am. Consider me optimistically sarcastic.
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