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Thursday, April 9, 2015


I spent all of yesterday (yes, from nine to five) in a communications class.  Was it about effective business communications?  Why yes it was.  Did it involve writing?  Or did it unexpectedly involve -- and here are where the low strings threaten balefully in the background while a lone oboe strikes up a a single plaintive note -- presentation styles and being filmed whilst speaking extemporaneously?  Join us tomorrow when I regale you with tales of humility and fear; but until then, I bring you today's conference call.  Join us, won't you?

I have a conference call to dial into and I’m already late. Shoot.

This is no way to start the day.

Beep. Beep-beep-beep. Beep-beep-beep boop boop bee boop.

“…and thank you for carving out this time for this meeting. Who just joined?”

“Hey, everyone. Sorry I’m late. This is Pearl.”

“Good morning, Pearl. We were just playing a little catch-up on what we were doing before we called in, what we’ll be doing once we can get back to our jobs, and what we’ll be doing in the meantime while pretending to participate in this call. Who wants to go next?”

Dead silence.


Profound and utter silence.

“OK, I’ll go next then. This last week, I’ve been executing a number of strategic moves. I am also looking at orchestrating the need for you all to take a nose-deep dive into how well you think I’m doing and how this will affect your future here at Acme Napkins and Grommets. This will involve several hours’ worth of pre-work created by renowned thought leaders on the subject of obedience, conformity, and group-think.

Any questions?”

Dead silence.

“Excellent. So does anyone want to update us on what you’ve been working on this week?”

More silence.


“I guess I’ll go.” It is Gayle, working from home out of our Boston office. “Um, this week I’ve been logging in on time but have been unavailable on e-mail, taking two-hour lunches, and leaving early for various “appointments”. I’d encourage everyone to leave messages on my voice-mail if you need me and I’ll get back to you when I can.”

“Excellent. Thank you, Gayle. Did everyone catch that? Did everyone catch the apostrophes around the word “appointments”?”

Various static-y sounds of assent are heard.

“Good. Thank you. Anyone else?”



“Hi, this is Mark from the Tucson office, working from home. And I just want to say what a great idea these meetings are. My multitasking during meetings is up dramatically, frankly; and I’m procrastinating well into the next fiscal year. I owe it all to this bunch.”

The ether comes alive with the sound of agreement and the working-from-home people finishing their dishes and letting their dogs in from the patio.

“It’s a great time to be alive. Anyone else?”


“OK. That’s it then. Everyone have a – oh, one other thing. Remember when we talked about raises and how they would be limited to the monetary equivalent of a pack of smokes a week? Well you’ll find that pack of smokes in your mail slot.”

Nothingness crackles across the phone lines as various people silently consider taking up smoking.

“Anything else? Everyone good?”


“Excellent! Have a great week, everyone!”



Shelly said...

I think you could come up with a highly effective business yoga class, which could be practiced together whilst on these conference calls. Could be a winner...

Pearl said...

:-) For all we know, the people on a conference call are actually in their undies, eating a bowl of cereal in the kitchen...

vanilla said...

Oh, I do hope this is tongue-in-cheek, but sadly for you, I suspect that is not the case. Soldier on!

jenny_o said...

Cereal is too crunchy, but a gin with freshly squoze lime would be nice and quiet!

joeh said...

I have a feeling that Jenny speaks from experience.

Anonymous said...

I used to fall asleep during those conference calls...embarrassing.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Each time you bring us in on the conference ring - I get hives. And I never get hives. Is this the 'ladle' effect??? YAM xx

Indigo Roth said...

I can only dream of procrastinating into next month. These guys are pros.

Indigo Roth said...

I can only dream of procrastinating into next month. These guys are pros.

jenny_o said...

joeh - that's not true! Gin and lime is Liza Bean's (and Pearl's) drink of choice, is it not? I'm strictly a water or milk gal!

ThreeOldKeys said...

An excellent use of everyone's time ... I suggest a follow-up call, in which everyone states how it has improved their work day and morale.

Linda O'Connell said...

Years and years ago I operated an old fashioned switch board with cords and a split key that allowed the operator to listen in. Oh the things I heard.

Dawn@Lighten Up! said...

Oh how I miss the days of loafing, er, working at home.

Elephant's Child said...

When I was forced to play conference call I was always grateful that video phones had not been invented, leaving me free to make faces, and dress like my comfortable slobby self.
How glad I am that Skype came after I left. Or my leaving would have been speeded up.

the walking man said...

How fortunate you are to be employed in the forward thinking digital age company.

NotesFromAbroad said...

How fortunate I am , not to have to work in a forward thinking office, I would have No clue as to what anyone is talking about.
love you Pearlie ! C

Holly said...

I have no idea what I just read but I absolutely loved it. Carry on!

Visiting from A to Z challenge :)


Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Maybe if the conference calls were video calls people would pay more attention, but of course as said if it was a video call people couldn't take them in their undies or pj's and that would suck

Rose L said...

What> No background sounds of someone clipping their toenails, or someone playing a video game or a slot machine? Or maybe an amorous time in the bedroom? Hmmm.....