• J Mess

MUTE

Surprised it took this long, but it finally happened.


Back in my office days we did multiple conference calls a day. It was basically all we did. The phone we had in the conference rooms had a giant red light when it was muted and a green light when it was un-muted. Basically you lived or died by that light. Everyone paid attention to when un-mute was pressed and immediately pressed mute again as soon as they were done speaking. And before you ever opened your mouth to utter anything to anyone, you looked at that light. Every now and then you'd get a junior account person who didn't grasp the importance of the light and would accidentally leave the phone off mute. That person was hated. And the more senior account people who would hang up the phone when the call was done, then open the line and hang up again. Then hang up again about 100 more times to make sure the client was really gone before saying a word, was a cult hero. You know who you are.


Now that I'm working from home, you'd think I would have the mute/un-mute situation under control. Since every meeting, for me, is a conference call. And I've been doing this since before it was the quarantine-cool thing to do. I should be a mute expert. A renowned mutologist. The master of the muted. Yet it seems I am not a master of anything and the different formats in the different conference applications can be slightly confusing. In my Zoom app, it defaults to camera off, but microphone on. So when I log into meetings, I know I have a 1 second window to quickly click the mute button before everyone can hear the absolute zoo constantly going on in my house. And I barely ever un-mute myself because there's barely ever a moment of silence during which I can form a cohesive thought to share. So once I click mute, I'm know I'm good. However the other day I had to log into a client conference call in Webex, and let's just say I was not good.


On a scale of I just cursed out the client to I just flushed the toilet on a Supreme Court oral argument, I think I'm somewhere in the middle.

I'm not as familiar with this platform. When you hover over the button, it says mute. Does that mean I'm on mute or I press that to mute? I think I'm on mute? I think I'm on mute. The call proceeds. I don't think I've said anything. Have I said anything? I've typed a little. My phone has beeped. I think I listened to a voicemail maybe, but not on speakerphone. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened. About an hour in, Nathan starts screaming from downstairs and my husband starts yelling at him. Then it happens. Someone on the call says "oh it sounds like someone's child is having a tantrum? Can you mute... and good luck." OH MY GODDDDDDDD. Is she talking to me? Nope. Can't be. I'm on mute. Jesus Christ am I not on mute? I'm stunned and my brain is processing in slow motion. I don't even know how to react. My heart is racing. How can I not be on mute? I'm such a mess, that my first decision is to just shut the bedroom door. Because she couldn't possibly be talking to me and I don't need to figure out why I'm not on mute because I'm definitely on mute. Except apparently I am not on mute. And closing the door has only muffled the blood-curdling cries of my angry toddler. I figure this out when I finally press the mute button, and the entire area on screen turns bright red. Just like the color of my face...

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