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.