2.11.2010

the sound of your disappearing career

If you ever want to know what the sound of a disappearing career is, it could (quite literally) be a toilet flush. And I'm not saying that simply because I've been watching Ally McBeal.

At certain points in the year, particularly around quarter-end or fiscal year-end, I attend enough meetings to drive any rational person (ie: me) insane. I passed the 5 hour mark for meetings on Tuesday and realized I had 3 more hours to go. Meaning, 3 more hours to go insane. When does one eat lunch? Go to the bathroom? Get any work done? These questions and others created such a din in my head I got a migraine. Bygones. Yes, that was a Fishism. Anyway, you see my point. You get tired. Off your game. Do irrational things. Do dumb things.

Yesterday was just such a(n) (idiotically dumb) day for some poor schmuck. Let me break down the scene of the crime, a Big Time meeting: scheduled for 2 hours, over a hundred people, many people attending by calling in on a conference line, lots of background noise because people can't figure out how to mute their phone. To add to the chaos, everyone not attending in person dialed in on the "moderator" line rather than the "attendee" line. What this means is the odd automated voice* that said, "all lines are on mute" lied. The voice lied. Repeating that phrase over and over again. So, as the meeting was getting under way with our VP going over points (yada yada yada) everyone heard the unmistakable sound of a flushing toilet ring out and echo over every telephone line to every corner of every conference room where employees crowed around the phone as if it was the only source of heat around.

A toilet flush. Silence. Laughter.

I'm not gonna lie, I harbor the fear of my mute button not working. But if I have to pee during the middle of a meeting where I don't have to talk, you better believe I'm leaving the phone in my office. I don't know what happened to the guy.** Methinks the shame of the VP saying he wish he had handi-wipes and antibacterial hand gel to give out was probably enough punishment. And my guess is that the lesson of toilet flush, silence, laughter will be a long lasting one. Perhaps at another company.

* oddly enough, the automated voice on US based calls are male ("please press the pounds sign") whilst British based calls are female ("please press the hash mark")
** I'm assuming this person was a dude. Bygones.

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