“A co-worker and I were on a conference call. Basically, it was the entire multinational IT team discussing some projects coming up with some corporate bigwigs. So we were told what we needed to do, and one of the guys from Holland (I’ll call him Bjorn) went off on a rant complaining about the workload. He went on for a solid 20 minutes complaining and just talking in circles, but the thing was, this project wasn’t optional, we had to do it no matter what. Everyone was in the same boat and he actually had one of the lightest workloads, having the fewest users to support.
After his tirade was over, the focus switched to the United Kingdom (UK) team and we were told what we needed to do. We basically just said, ‘Okay, understood.’
I muted the phone, turned to my co-worker, and said: ‘You see how much freaking easier it is to just agree to something instead of wasting everyone’s time complaining? It’s not like we’ve got a freaking choice. Just get the heck on with it. Is it just me or is every conference call like 10 minutes of useful information, followed by 45 minutes of Bjorn complaining?’
Then my co-worker chimed in, ‘Yeah, all he does is freaking whine, ’I’m Bjorn, I’ve got to do some freaking work for once. It’s less than everyone else, but I’m going to whine about it for freaking hours.’ Every time.’
Me: ‘Guy’s a loser. I’ve seen how many tickets he does a week. What he calls a busy week, I call an average Monday morning, but it’s the way he’ll keep whining about something that we can’t change. Doesn’t matter that it affects everyone, doesn’t matter that we’ve no choice but to suck it up and get on with it, he just talks in circles.’
Coworker: ‘Yeah, and why moan about it? It’s not like the company’s going to say, ‘Okay, we’ll cancel a multi-million-pound project because freaking Bjorn wants to spin in his chair all day.’’
Then we noticed the call had gone completely silent. I looked at the phone and saw the mute button wasn’t lit up. I about pooped my pants and, for some reason, muted the phone like it would erase the last minute of conversation. There was dead air for what felt like an eternity, then we heard:
‘Ummm…UK, did you say something?’
My co-worker and I just stared at each other in horror. The company CEO was on the call, as was the main head of IT.
At that moment, the UK’s IT Head, whose office was just down the hall, booted the door open, barged into the room making cutthroat motions, and mouthed, ‘YOU’RE NOT ON MUTE! YOU’RE NOT ON MUTE!’
We just stared back in horror and said: ‘We know!’
Then the call went, ‘Errr….okay, let’s carry on.’
At that point, we saw that the UK’s IT Head was actually trying not to laugh and we figured we couldn’t be in that deep of trouble. Then the call went on as if nothing happened. Bjorn, uncharacteristically, stayed silent.
We didn’t get in trouble for it. No one complained and our boss wasn’t angry at us because we were basically saying, ‘This is our job, we have to do it so there’s no point in complaining,’ and Bjorn never complained again probably because he knew we were right.
Now, we laugh about it, but when we realized the phone wasn’t muted and the call went silent, we nearly soiled ourselves.
Yeah, lessons were learned that day.
I thought I pushed the mute button and heard it beep. No reason to suspect it wasn’t muted. What I’d actually done was ‘double clicked’ it. The contact on the button was a bit dodgy, so I muted then immediately unmuted.”