Heavy Breather Conference Call

At lunch today, my officemates and I huddled around the speakerphone on the back table for a “town hall” meeting teleconference call. Colleagues called in from all over, set their office and cubicle phones to speaker, and proceeded to pay no attention whatsoever.

These folks have got some good microphone pick-ups on their telephones. We heard honking, sirens, closing doors, throat-clearings and a lilting little Irish jig on lute and guitar. This is true. “Break out the Guiness,” one coworker said. If only.

At least one person held a handset up to their head. We know, because he or she breathed into the mouthpiece for the entire 72 minute phone call.

You know those calls in the movies the evil creepy killer makes? Yeah, like that. The accounting department apparently hired a masked guy with a butcher knife. As the big boss talked in New York, we tried to make sense of the platitudes interrupted by gale force winds in the speakerphone.

“Not in every one of our markets, but in most of our markets, we’re facing the challenge of . . . BRCHTHEB . . .”

“Who? Which challenge?” we asked ourselves, our own speakerphone on mute.

“The second piece of it is, now that you understand the market . . . BRSHCHSBR . . .”

“What’s the piece of what now?”

Finally, a half-hour in, somebody somewhere had enough.”Excuse me, I don’t mean to interrupt, but could everyone remotely put their phones on mute? There’s breathing and there’s music and it’s distracting.”

There was silence on the line except for the Irish folk tune. (What was that guy thinking? “Wait, you mean this Irish jig? Oh, my bad.”) But there was no breathing. We waited and listened . . . no breathing, no breathing . . . Ok, the heavy breather must have got the message. Probably a little embarrassed right now.

“We want plans that are going to stimulate growth, obviously, but the nut of the strategic process is . . . BRCKSHSBRHK . . .”

Since nobody could hear anything anyway, my coworker in Virginia IMed me — “OK, I’m gonna cough . . . ready?”

“John’s gonna cough!” I told my officemates in Minneapolis.

He did, and it was awesome, let me tell you.

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