Why I love nightmare Zoom calls
No, I’m not dressing up so you can see me from the neck-up
There is a segment of the working population that cannot wait to get back to their small cubicles and in-person (always boring) meetings. But for someone like me, who works from home permanently, I’m having a dandy time watching this group figure out all the highs and lows of work-from-home activities. I’ve long ago figured out how to make even the worst Zoom call into fun opportunities for myself. These are all based on a true story.
Toddler/small child interrupts for bathroom assistance: Yes! My favorite moment today was the client who yelled “Do you have to pee?” in the middle of discussing web navigation bar changes. Help the kid. This is a perfect opportunity for me to play my next word in Scrabble Go. There’s a fierce competition going on with me and my mother, and I refuse to let her send me another “Haters Gonna Hate” Bitmoji. Your toddler’s bladder is my opportunity to figure out how to get triple-point words.
Video frozen: Works for me. I’d been trying to figure out a way to munch on that half-eaten pancake and Tofurky slice I could smell while other people were talking. Grab a large forkful and enjoy all the tapping away, logging out and logging back in because technology hates you.
Audio won’t turn on: While you’re working out the kinks, may as well click on that last “Watch Later” video on YouTube you’d been meaning to stream. It’s going to be awhile before you figure out why there’s always one person in the group who has a random echo, can’t hear anyone, mutes herself whenever it’s her turn to talk or doesn’t know how the waiting room works.
Dog runs in the room to bark or interrupt the call: Pre-COVID-19, I distinctly recall one particular business call with my attorney/past client. At the home where I was housesitting, the dog was napping and minding her business. The minute she heard another voice, she leaped over to stand right on my lap. All you saw was my boobs and her head. Amazing visual and a great way to liven up the call. And let’s not act like Stephen Colbert’s dog on “A Late Show” isn’t one of our favorite parts of him working from home.
Share screen won’t show the right screen: This one is tricky for Upwork users who are doing hourly jobs, primarily because the application takes screenshots of your screen while you’re working. Do not go on a website that you cannot justify getting paid to be on. And whatever website you think you can sneak onto, don’t go on that one either. Use this opportunity of other team members (or clients) wrestling around to share their screens to intensely look at your tablet or smartphone. You must look busy while they argue with the air and grumble at their keyboards. Are you answering emails from other people? Yes. Are you still playing Scrabble Go? Probably. Are you seeing what’s new on Pinterest? Obviously.
Not dressing for the occasion: Unless you’re this ABC reporter, you already know how to aim your screen. But should you need to get up, make sure to turn your computer video off before standing. Chances are pretty high I won’t even tell you that I can see your boxer briefs. You’ll just see me giggling away while we talk about HTML coding and the next written assignment.
Bathroom visits on the audio call: I’m still puzzled by this Supreme Court joke everyone was talking about. All you have to do is figure out a question to ask your most long-winded attendee, and let her go. Mute the phone, and handle your business. Chances are high that she’ll still be talking long after you’ve washed your hands — for 25 seconds please. But if you’re on the phone with the one-word answering attendees, this can get tricky. Mute your phone long enough to finish your needs and then just close the lid. Flush it later. No one knows but you (and other family members or roommates) anyway. But please flush it when the call ends. Don’t be gross.
Non-private conversations in the chat: Oh boy, I once got invited to someone’s family dinner by accident and another time got an answer to a question I didn’t even ask. The first time it was because two attendees didn’t realize the host unmuted everyone, and he went on and on about his dinner menu and who was invited to that holiday dinner. The second time was a random chat response that definitely did not match the rest of the discussion. You could easily just ignore that chat, but my fun-loving group of 50 all decided we were inviting ourselves to his private dinner. COVID-19, be damned, his dinner checklist sounded amazing.
Phone call/text message alerts that keep going off: The easiest way to fix this one is to just remind all attendees that they should turn their phones to “Do Not Disturb” or silent. But what kind of fun would that be? Instead, I just look for the person who keeps conveniently looking under his desk and a light keeps reflecting on his glasses. In the right light, I can read his text messages and see what website he’s on. If I’m friendly with the person though, I might send my own under-the-desk text saying, “Hey, dude, GET OFF YOUR PHONE. It’s rude.” The look of shame on his face is worth it.
Some of you are so ready for the virtual calls to end. I, for one, am enjoying it all. Until next chat, let’s see what else people can do to screw up the virtual meetings.
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