07 January 2010

A Friendly Message for Those Who Use Speakerphones


You are an asshole.

I just wanted to send this message your way, just in case you own a speakphone and use it, and your friends, family and colleagues have been to polite or timid or scared to inform you that your phone behavior repels. Just a public service. I hope you don't mind.

Because make no mistake: if you have a speakerphone and use it for any purpose other than a large conference call, you are an asshole. A lazy one. A pompous one. An thoughtless one. And the folks of the receiving end of your speakerphone conversations all think so, without exception. Without exception. That means your mother, your wife/husband/partner, your girlfriend/boyfriend, your best friend, your boss, your underlings. Even as they say "Hello!" and inquire after your health and joke and shoot the shit about last night's game or tonight's dinner, they're thinking, "asshole, asshole, asshole, I'm on the phone with an asshole who doesn't give a damn about me."

I thought speakphones would be passé by now, what with the many new-fangled phones and ways to communicate. But calls have led me to quite a few office-size echo chambers lately, used by people in all lines of work (but mainly lawyers and executives). My protocol on such occasions is the same. I exchange a few pleasantries, waiting for them to pick up. If they don't, I take a long pause and ask, "Are you on speakerphone?" They always reply "Yes," but do not sense this is their cue to pick up. So I must say "Do you mind picking up?" Then, they invariably pick up with a heavy sigh and an easily detectable air of annoyance. They are pissed! How dare I interfere with their sense of importance, their wont to lean back heavily in their upholstered leather office chair while they talk, their need to multitask and shuffle papers while they field my call! How dare I insist on not straining my ears and accepting my place as a peon in their universe!

Speakerphones are rudeness made physical. There's no excuse for them. You are not that busy that you can't pick up the phone. And if you are, hire another assistant, because you must be truly monumental in whatever your business is. No, you're not busy, you're just overly impressed with your many irons in the fire, and decadently slothful. What a feeling of prideful liberty it must be to not talk into a receiver but into the very air, as if the cosmos are awaiting your next command. Talk to the left, talk to the right, up, down, back, front—someone it still listening! My God, what weight your words have. And why shouldn't they? You're a living, breathing, vibrant being with a big office. That other person on the line is just a tinny voice inside a little box! The plebe! The insect!

Join me, won't you, gentle readers. If you get on the line with someone on speakerphone, kindly insist they pick up. If we all do it, the speakerphone will go the way of the fax machine. If it's useless, no one will want one anymore.

13 comments:

nanotheater said...

Yes- you are an a-hole-

Unless, unless you are calling a organization that puts you on hold for long periods of time. Then the only offense is to your co-workers who must endure the endless; "Your call is important to us..."

If my call is important, answer the damn phone.

~*~Lilly~*~ said...

I LOATH people who use speaker phones for no reason. And in my industry (finance) there are alot of these lazy A-holes. Grrr

David Dust said...

Truer words have never been written.

For years I answered the phones at a small UES restaurant and took take-out/delivery orders. If someone called me using a speakerphone (they were calling from their apartments, not even their offices!!), I would pretend I couldn't hear them until they picked up the phone.

"Hello? ... Hello? ... is anyone there??".

It worked EVERY TIME.

Carrie said...

Yeah talk to me when you have an 18-month-old scaling you while you're cooking dinner and trying to catch up with your sister. I am that busy. Lighten up.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Carrie: I have cooked dinner while watching my 18-month-old (now 8). I never tried to complicate the picture by also fielding a phone call at the same time.

Jeff said...

if someone could just make a phone that sounds as good on speakerphone as it does held to the ear, this wouldn't be an issue. But for some reason all speakerphones sound....well.. like speakerphones.

no_pirates said...

stop whining and lighten up. it's not a big deal.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

"Lighten Up"—the battle cry of the I-Don't-Give-a-Damn-About-Anybody's-Feelings-and-Want-to-Do-Whatever-I-Want Crowd.

yalechk said...

From all of us who work ridiculous hours (often in the finance and legal fields) and don't have the leisure of focusing only on your call, I'm sorry, but you're right--you're just not important enough for us to pick up. We'd rather go home half an hour earlier (at 9pm). I think I will "lighten up" my blog reader, and unsubscribe.

Brooks of Sheffield said...

Ha! Yalechk, you're obviously the exact person I wrote that post for. Thanks for providing the apt depiction of the sort of behavior I was describing.

Just remember what I said about what the people on the receiving end of your speakerphone calls are thinking. It's absolutely true.

Tim said...

You're a genius! But, then again, you know how heavy today's cell phones are! :)

JaneDoe said...

Yalechk = another self-important YUNNIE, who is not important enough not to be called an asshole, despite her grandiosity and sense of entitlement.

Folks like her are what give Lawyers and Wall Streeters a bad name.

Andrew said...

I like to use them to do my impression of a train announcer in an echoing station: "Alllll aboard-d-d-d, now leeeevinnngggg on track thureeeee"