life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Speaker phones -- a rant

Hate, hate, hate speaker phones.

The most over-used, obnoxious gadget in the office.

I never used to have a problem with them.

I mean, if you're driving in the car and you need to carry on a conversation, a speaker phone is a useful device.  Eyes on the road.  Both hands on the wheel.  It's great.

In your own home, no problem at all.  Let's say there are two of you at home, and the landline  phone rings. And both of you want to talk to the caller.  Using the speaker phone might be a better option than one of you picking up the extension in the next room.

Not to mention, picking up the extension in the next room isn't an option if you're using a cell phone.

Speaking of cell phones . . . I don't run into this frequently,  but if you're in Starbucks or at a restaurant or on the train --or any public place where your cell phone conversation should be soft, hushed, so that you don't disturb the people around you -- using the speaker phone is not an option.

But what threw me over the edge was the speaker phone epidemic at my office.

I work in a cubicle farm.  The walls between desks afford some visual privacy but do little to dampen sound.  Consequently we hear each other's conversations all day long.  I've long since learned that if I have private business that I do not care to share with the entire floor, I need to make my call from a conference room, or anyplace where I can shut the door.

I mean, the office joke is about two women we refer to as "Loud" and "Louder".  These two will speak in normal conversational tones when speaking to you in person.  But when they pick up that phone receiver, it's as if each woman has transformed into a Broadway actress who must project her voice to the back of the house in order to be heard.  Yes, it's that loud.  Honestly, though, I don't think either is aware she's doing that.

But speaker phones in cubicle land . . .one of my coworkers used to turn on the speaker during conference calls so that she could continue to use her computer during the call.  That stopped when someone anonymously bought headphones and left them at her desk.

But now I sit near Really Important Man.  He is high enough in the food chain to warrant an office.  Not a cube like us peons.  An office with real walls, and a door that closes.

And he just loves his speaker phone.  He uses it every time he makes or receives a call.    Every.  Single.  Time.  Of course he closes his office door.  He closes it AFTER the call is connected.  Not that it really matters, sometimes he's got the volume up so loud I can hear it through the door.

I am so sick of hearing "Welcome to the conference center. .  . Please enter your passcode. .  .You are now joining the call as the fifth participant. .  ."

But what really put it over the top . . .

There's a special project going on at the office.  Contract employees associated with the project have taken over all the empty cubes on our floor. Really Important Man is coordinating with the contract employees, so there are many calls, many meetings.

And then Very Important Woman arrived, and moved into the office next to Really Important Man.  She has the same penchant for speaker phones; someone had to remind her to SHUT THE DOOR!.  And she's working on the same project as Really Important Man.

So one afternoon they are on the same conference call.  He is at his desk, speaker phone engaged.  She is at her desk, just a few feet away, also of speaker.  I can hear every word.

And then Really Important Man began to speak . . .

The echo was simply incredible.

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