“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Smooth Operator

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I have a friend who, along with her four siblings, grew up in theater. Whenever one of them came home from a successful show, that sibling was required to take out the garbage. It was their parents way of keeping them humble. Every once in a while, it seems I am compelled to do something to humble myself, and make me reconsider whether I am worthy of the title of Geekwif.

The other day I was on a call at work. In the course of the call, I needed to conference in another person. Having worked in customer service most of my adult life, I have a pretty good idea of how to properly use a standard office telephone. I know how to transfer a call, how to put someone on hold without losing them, and how to perform a three-way conference call.

However, the phones in my current place of employment are designed for call centers and have many buttons beyond the typical office phone, most of which are used for taking and tracking calls on several queues. Since I don't take incoming calls, I haven't needed to learn how to use anything beyond the basic transfer, hold, and conference keys.

Even though I had not used the conference feature of this phone yet, I was completely confident as I pressed the conference button. My finger was moving rapidly toward the first number in my dialing sequence when my phone started ringing...loudly...very loudly. I quickly turned down the volume while thinking, "Great. What a time for my second line to ring." Problem was, my second line wasn't blinking. There was no call coming in; my phone was just ringing.

I pressed the button to pick up my original call and try the conference again, but it kept ringing, and while it was slightly less abrasive at a lower volume, it was obvious that something was not right. It just kept ringing. When I hit conference, the tone changed and it rang some more. I hit conference again. Another new tone. More ringing.

By this time, I was pretty flustered. My phone seemed to have gotten the mistaken idea that I wanted to change my ringtone, and it was not about to let me make that conference call until I made my decision. But I didn't know how to convince it that I was fine with the current tone, and meanwhile my customer was waiting on hold.

Then my co-workers started talking. "What is that?"

"Someone's trying to change their ringtone." I could hear the rolling eyes even over the cube wall. The tone of voice translated the word "someone" into "some loser".

"Oh," was the only reply, but there were clear implications of disgust in that single syllable.

Or maybe that was my paranoia speaking.

And then I heard my own plaintive cry as I called sheepishly over the cube wall. "That's me. I don't know how to make it stop."

And here I am, hired to help people fix their electronic equipment. Yeah. That makes me look real good.

At first I wasn't sure anyone heard me, but soon rolling-eyes-guy came over and fixed it for me. Turns out there's a function key (which I had on somehow) which changes the conference button into a "let's see how many obnoxious noises my phone can make" button.

So I made my call, and I never mentioned the fiasco again. And thankfully, neither did my co-workers. In fact, now that I've outed myself to the world as technologically incompetent, I think I will never speak of this incident again.

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At 3/20/2007 9:51 PM, Blogger Ginger wrote:

Heh. If your coworkers are anything like mine, they WILL bring it up again, if only to embarrass you mightily at the Christmas party (which is where our embarrassing-one-another is done, oddly enough).

At 3/30/2007 9:22 PM, Anonymous HolyMama wrote:

i really hope you didn't take out the trash after that!


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