Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Phone People

A growing number of people at my office are walking around wearing their telephone headsets all the time.

It is no mere status symbol: these devices are actually in use. I have become used to approaching people carefully, miming a handphone and mouthing "Are-you-on-the-phone?" before I speak to them. You have to be delicate with them, like rousing a sleepwalker. At any time while I am conversing them, these individuals are liable to break eye contact, direct their gaze somewhere over my shoulder, and begin speaking loudly to someone who is not in the room with us. The disembodied voice usually takes precedence over conversation in the flesh.

My boss has a personal assistant who works a few hours per week. Yesterday, she arrived talking into the air, waved to me, put her things down, pantomimed a request to be let into a locked office, followed me in, opened up a drawer, and commenced working without missing a beat in her conversation. I never did get to exchange a proper hello - at some point during the day, the assistant was gone, and I imagine her walking down the ramp toward her car, alone and talking. Or perhaps she simply disappeared in thin air - "dropped," like a broken cell phone signal.

Al the security guy is in on it, too, but he doesn't have a "bluetooth" or similar device that clips to his head. He has an old fashioned plug-in earpiece, and he walks around with the earpiece on, the cord dangling by his side.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

This habit is probably at the top of my list of pet peeves. I wouldn't mind it so much, except these people seem to think they are in the norm and the other 90% aren't. If you walk up to one of them and just start talking, like a regular person does, they give you this reaction/look of "How dare you talk to me while I'm on the phone!" Yet, they don't realize, no one knows they are on the phone except them and the person on the other end of the line.

Eh. Don't get me started ....