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Monday, October 5, 2015

Welcome? To the Meeting? or What Really Goes on During a Conference Call

Beep!  Beep-beep-beep-boo-beep-beep-beep.

“… and so I told him? that with the significant amount of scope-creep we were experiencing?  that we’d just have to throw it over the fence at some point?  Hello!  Who just joined us?”

“Hi, everyone.  It’s Pearl.  So sorry I'm late.”

“There she is!  Welcome, Pearl.  Let’s go ahead and start, shall we?

“I just want to thank everyone for calling in today?  We have so much to do? And so little time to do it?”

And just like that, I’ve stopped listening.  Because if there’s one thing that bothers me?  Is the upward inflection?  When none is called for?  It's her voice?  Causing me to reflect upon possible personal symptoms?  That would lead me to believe that I might have a need for high blood pressure medication?


The short, squat man in my head, the one prone to belching the alphabet in quiet spaces and waggling his eyebrows at passersby, perks up.

“Is that a question?  Pearl!  Psst!  Pearl!"

I sigh silently, distractedly.

"Pearl!  Is she, like, asking us, you know, a question?”

I try to tune him out, of course, as all right-thinking people should.  But he will not be denied.  "Her name?" he hisses.  "Is it, like, Psienna?  With a silent P at the front?"

I smirk, then stifle said smirk.  "Shut up,"

The phone crackles.  "... as you can see on Slide 17?  The blarf-hinged heinie-swaddler? is currently at..."

Hi giggles, digs into an ear with a hopeful and ultimately disappointed forefinger.  "Maybe it's Gnatalie."

I smile, picturing the silent G.  "Shut up."

"Can we make a grocery list?" he says.  "We're out of cat treats."

"... thus clearly indicating a need? for benchmarking?..."

I frown.  "I thought you said that cats didn't deserve treats."

The short, squat man in my head leans against the inside of my skull, wiping out third grade.  "They don't," he whispers.  "They're for me."

The phone makes a noise, something akin to a marble rolling around the inside of mayonnaise jar.  "So that is pretty much what we have time for?  Pearl?  Go ahead and set some time up and we'll go over this?  My calendar is open."

The short, squat man in my head howls with laughter.  "What?" I whisper to him.  "What the?"

He backs away, wiggling his blunt, pudgy fingers at me.  "Gotta run," he says.  "But your confusion?  Has made my day?"

"Shut up," I hiss.

I clear my throat.  "Sure thing," I say into the phone.  "If you could send me a quick e-mail, let me know any agenda or how you'd like the subject line to read..."

"Of course," she says.  "I'll send the materials as well."


Good ol' Psienna.


joeh said...

I know that inflection. The lady was smart as a whip, but you'd never know it?

Still liked working with her, just wish she had more self-confidence.

bill lisleman said...

"prone to belching the alphabet in quiet spaces" - just wondering did you belch just before writing this? Otherwise where does these wonderful wacky thoughts come from?

bill lisleman said...

There was a time back during the FAX and voicemail era that I thought conference calls were a great invention. What a fool I was.

Cheryl said...

Pearl, linguists have a name for that - Up Speak. It's so annoying for a listener. I first heard this way of talking many years ago in AA and Al Anon meetings. Curious.

Another irritating one is Vocal Fire. Many young women talk like this now - the growling sound of speaking.
It just sounds like plain old whining to me.

Glad to hear your voice again.


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Oh. My. Word. I have that same squat fella... or his cousin... I'm glad he's there to do the chuntering about the 'lilting' voices and the 'ratatatatata' speakers... Or I might put a foot somewhere I'd choke... YAM xx

Joanne Noragon said...

I love the lilt of an upward inflection to end a sentence. Of course, it must never vary, and then it's called an Irish lilt. If I were much younger, I would swoon at the sound.

Jono said...

Upward inflection. I never heard it labelled, but I sure know what it is? It's bad enough when you can see the person doing it so you can better guess if it is indeed a question. Over the phone? Not a chance.

jenny_o said...

I am of two minds about upward inflection. I find it annoying as heck when it's a sweet young thing doing it with eyelash fluttering and a tinkly laugh. But it's extremely useful to signal to my selectively deaf husband that I'm not done talking about this subject yet. "Remember that this is a holiday weekend coming up? And that you need to invite your mom for dinner? And while you're talking to her? Ask her for the recipe for her icebox cookies? And let her know what time you're picking her up?" If at any point in the process I stop with the questioning tone, he quits answering, and I never know if he's listening or if he just didn't hear me.

Good save on the email request, Pearl!

jenny_o said...

P. S. Or should we be writing that "Kpearl" from now on? Or even "Ppearl"? You know?

Anonymous said...

Ah the telephone conference meeting.....the rattle of dishes in the background as someone at home washes up, the scratching of the dog at the front door asking to be let out, the muted sound of the tv playing the soaps....the soft sound of snoring as Delores drops off with her nose in the keyboard. The upward inflection? I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, I thought you were asking someone else a question? You weren't? Would you like to repeat all that? You wouldn't? Why not?

River said...

The upward inflection annoys the heck out of me, especially when I find myself doing it because everyone around me is.
I want a blarf-hinged heinie-swaddler.

Gigi said...

Oh jeez, we've got a couple of those and I want to smack them silly. Oh, and those women that "whisper" when they talk...what the hell is that all about?

Buttons Thoughts said...

I thought I was the only one with a short, squat man in my head getting me distracted and in trouble:) 3rd grade erased I am sure it was nothing and probably half gone anyway.. Hug B

Jocelyn said...

I have so many people living inside my head. Your guy would have a party if you and I clunked noggins.

Geo. said...

I do not think much of this heinous trend toward interrogative supremacy. Rising intonation, in many languages, is often the only method of distinguishing a question from a declarative statement --a system rooted in prehistory. I blame Alex Trebek.

Vicus Scurra said...

My days of meetings are long past and occurred in an era where the conference call was still rare. The good thing about real meetings was that when of the attendees went into bullshit mode (about 82% of the time) you could get other attendees to break down with the giggles - I was so good at this that I could achieve it with a single look. I don't think you would have been much of a challenge, Pearl.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Ok gave me a headache, well not really but it did make my head hurt a bit when I started to laugh followed by cough due to drink going down the wrong way which made me hit my head on the table because I put my head down while coughing and banged it which is why my head hurts now, yes it was a hard bang just so you know

Rose L said...

For some reason that fat man in your head looked to me like the "mucus man" on the commercial, just do not remember what the commercial is advertising! Ah, ya gotta know the one I am talking about...Thank goodness I never have to do conference calls!

Catalyst said...

Hahahahaha! Agreed! Good old Psienna. Great one, Pearl.

the walking man said...

Oh how I miss all the wasted time created by management during the course of a workday. Really I do--that and swearing at the ignorant bastards for yakking at me while I am trying to balance a 600 pound transmission on a four inch jack--yes Ms. Pearl i do so miss those moments of pleasure.