I Hate Conference Calls

You hate them? I hate them more.

Instant Message.

Not happy.

So I’ve been asked by a client, whom I love, to do a project.  Awesome.  It’s a small firm I’m working for, and I’m scheduled to be on a call with them, er, let’s see, 8 minutes ago.  So I’m sitting on the bridge of s service called “Free conference calls.com”, which is totally handy, because when you google it, google suggests “freeconferencecall.com scam”.  Indeed, I couldn’t call in from google voice.

It’s now 4:10.  10 minutes late.  Maybe I’ll send them an email.  Maybe I’ll just hang up.  I mean, how much are the billings on this job going to be?  Is it worth ten minutes listening to this HORRIBLE MUSIC.  I just emailed “I am feeling a lack of love.”  I feel that communicates some of my feelings.  I do feel a lack of love.  And the undeniable presence of hate.  They must hate me.  My time has no value.  Or they’d never make me sit here.  Like Billy Nomates.

They just emailed back — “Sorry!  Can we do it now?”  Why, yes, yes we can.  I’m sitting on hold.  Waiting for your call.

On the train

On the train

so I’m on a call sitting on the train.  Painful, painful.  If someone asks me a question — which I know won’t happen — I have to grab for my phone, flip off the cover, hit the touch screen to un-mute, and talk.  I have to be careful not to raise my voice, or the commuters enjoying this trip with me with turn on me like a scene from Animal Farm.

This is meeting is scheduled for two hours, and I’m confident it will take every minute.  My train is 48 minutes.  So and some point I will have to pack up my laptop and find a cab.  It’s a multi-venue call.

about 15 people on the call are in the home office of our client, and I guess they’ve had a number of birthdays this week.  Because in the middle of the call, someone burst into the room screaming “SORRY TO INTERRUPT BUT WE HAVE CUPCAKES!!!!”.  So now my time is worth so little that I’m listening to people eat processed baked goods rather than doing whatever the hell it is I could be doing had I any control over these two hours.

Someone on the phone bridge just hit re-dail and we all heard the melodic sound of touch tones.  Handy.

I know that I like the quiet of planes.  And I know I hate the noise of of people talking on their mobiles.  But I had never considered conference calls on a plane before.  Hell on earth.  Without the earth part.

Allowing people to talk on their phones in the air will turn a quiet flight into 6 hours of being trapped next to some guy on a conference call

via Foreign Airlines Rushing to Offer In-Flight Cell Service; Keep It Out of America, Please – in-flight calling – Gizmodo.

So what’s the deal with people who can’t even CONFIRM a conference call.   I know everyone is busy.  So busy that they can’t make any decisions without having a conference call.  A got an email yesterday: “Hey, how about a conference call tomorrow at 4pm?”.  I respond “Sure, no problem, dream come true.  Please provide the call in information.”

And then nothing.

I’m sitting here like billy no mates, wondering if I can start drinking or not.  Do I email my client and ask them if they want to have a call?  That’s freakin’ nuts.  It’s like asking a fish if it wants a drink of water, how can it say no?  I’ll sit here, with my eye on my inbox and my bottle opener at the ready.

Hoping for a perfect game here…

on a call on which I may say nothing at all.  OK, that’s a lie.  I was on the call at the start, and said hello.  It was kind of an angry/sad hello, but a hello nonetheless.  Now the call is in full swing, and it’s clear that it all has nothing to do with me.  I wonder if it’s my own narcissism at work here — why does it always have to be about me?  Even a little bit?

Same old phone here, no mute button.  A lot of screaming from downstairs, as the kids are home.  I can’t scream at them without outing myself as a no-mute person, and an overly angry parent.  It’s a quagmire.


Can I set any more alarms?

Can I set any more alarms?

I’m in a bit of a pickle.  I am scared because our economy is no doubt retracting, and I think that I need to try to retain what few clients don’t hate me.  Therefore, I feel like I need have a better attitude, and therefore I’m going to try, in the New Year, to not  get out of as many conference calls.

Starting the year anew, here I am, on a call.  Listening in so I can try to spread my good attitude through the world by remaining positive.

Got on the call on schedule, got the message “the moderator has not yet joined the conference.”  Nice!  OK, let’s sit on hold with music!

When the call started, the automated attendant asked us each to say our names.  By the time the client/moderator had joined the call, our virtual stewardess had cued up all of the names of the people on hold.  As we were all welcomed into the womb of the call itself, the automated voiced  announced “John Smith has joined the conference!  Jane Smith has joined the conference!  Mike Smith has joined the conference!”  It would pause, only for a second, between each announcement.  No one knew if she was done or not, so people would start to speak, only to be run down by “Harry Jones has joined the conference!” It was like being announced to the king.  Except not at all like that.

Finally, when the 15 announcements were over, the our client asks”OK, who’s on the call?”  This is not starting well.

I really am doing my best.  Mentally I have to remember:

  • They aren’t doing this call because they hate me specifically but rather…
  • They are doing the call because they hate humanity, and this small amount of suffering that we all share will bring us together as humans.
  • By suffering through the call I become more human.

I’ve discovered that my new phone, the Uniden EXI 8560 does not have a mute button.  Disaster!!!!

I’ve flipped my headset back over my head and am trying not to scream out loud in pain.

The waiting is the hardest part…

I have a call that begins in 3 minutes.  The thing is that I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do (don’t we all!), none of which will take less than three minutes.  So I’m returning  to my long-neglected blog to see if can’t write some stuff.

This call is for a project that we’ve been working all far too long, and I’ve received a bunch of email leading up to the call (here are the materials you’ll NEED on the call.  They’ll take a LONG time to download.  Do it NOW.).  I’ve reviewed the materials, only because it’s a new client.  I often find it most fun to not review anything and not really have anything together when the call starts.  Then, if the call actually pertains to me, and something on which I am meant to know, I get the thrill of being totally and completely unprepared.  Then get to jump on my email and panic as I try to find whatever people are asking about.

A great thing about the whole world being on the “cloud” is that it’s possible to have nothing on your computer at the start of the call, PANIC, and then begin downloading power point presentations, excel files, etc., and then 3 minutes into the call have more stuff on your machine that you thought you’d ever need.

Call has started.  The problem is now is that people can’t agree who should be on the call, and if we can start without the key players.  Then long term argument about why the key players were not informed of the call, and then a longer debate on if indeed the key players are key.

Very complicated.

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