Friday, July 14, 2006

Conference calls

If you don't already know it, I hate using the phone. I was 23 or so before I lived in a house with a phone so I never got into the habit of having one handy. Even though I carry a mobile with a 400 minute a month plan I'd be lucky if I used as many as 10 minutes a month.

As you already know I find myself attending a number of teleconferences; always an opportunity to discover just how slowly time can seem to pass. My current count of regular conferences is now two per week. Doesn't sound like a lot but when you add in the ad hoc ones on three minutes notice it can add up to a reasonable portion of ones working week.

Of course I don't attend quite as many as the managers do; but isn't that the purpose of a manager? To stroke the customer in teleconferences so the rest of us can get some work done?

It happens that the second of my regular conferences commences at 8 AM on Thursday. Given that I'm a night owl and it's a 40 minute drive to the office and given that I prefer to have a coffee and review the minutes of the previous conference *before* the next one starts, that means I'm leaving home at sparrows fart Thursday mornings.

So today I took the opportunity of disappearing a trifle earlier than usual. I might have known it wouldn't be that simple, for who should ring me at home but *the* boss. Am I able to participate in an ad hoc conference connecting Dallas, the Tempe office, my home and Baguio? What am I going to say?

Now this would not be worth relating if the story went this far and no farther but of course it does.

We have the call originating in the Tempe Office aforesaid. Me calling in from Scottsdale. Someone calling in from Dallas and two more people calling in from The Philippines. Assuming those last two gather around a speaker phone that means we have a total of three outside lines coming in to the conference.

The genius who set up the move to the new building had them install a phone system that can cope with just two outside lines in a conference. Of course they forgot about that little limitation and I was treated to the sound of them, gathered about the phone, puzzling over why The Philippines couldn't connect. Every so often a yell 'Rob, are you still there?'. I'd affirm and then another yell 'Kevin, are you still there?'. Another affirmation.

Eventually I remembered the limit; some doubt was expressed but the explanation did cover the observed facts. A bright idea. *The* boss has a mobile phone without the 2 line limitation. So we all hang up and wait for him to dial us one by one. Eventually we're all on line at the end of a process that had me wanting to bite my arm off at the shoulder so's I could beat one of em to death with the wet end!

And you wonder why I hate the telephone!

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