Rules For Reactionaries

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Rules of telephone courtesy for people who want my help:

Do not leave me a voice mail, throw the handset back on the cradle and dash out of your office. When I call you back 30 seconds later, I don’t want to hear that you’ve just stepped out.  You’ve wasted my time responding to a call that you’re not available to take.  Wait a decent interval – five minutes or so – in case I reply immediately.  Yes, that means thinking ahead a bit: do not leave voice mails while you’re holding your pants to avoid wetting them; go to the can now and call me when you’re done.

Do not call me on the cell phone with your window down, the radio up, right before the tunnel, or when you’re on gravel roads at your lake place where the signal is iffy.  Inaudible and dropped calls waste my time.

Do not call me to discuss a file without having the file number in front of you.  When I have to wait on hold while you paw through the mess on your desk looking for basic information, it wastes my time.  And no, I won’t answer “just a general question” because I’ve been down that road before so I know the facts you recite are never what the facts turn out to be, but you’ll still blame me when general advice doesn’t solve your specific problem.

Do not leave a long message rambling on until you panic that your time is running out, then rattle off your number so fast I can’t make out the words.

When I call you back, do not answer the phone using the speaker phone setting.  Yes, it’s easier for you to shout while you lean back in the chair instead of hanging onto the handset and talking into the mouthpiece, but it’s harder for me to make out your words with the cacophony of paper rustling and chair squeaking and echo distortion.

I’m sure there are more of them, but those are the ones that have come up this morning.  So far.

Joe Doakes

Don’t talk with your mouth full.   Ever.

2 thoughts on “Rules For Reactionaries

  1. Tangentially related:

    If you are on a conference call:


    I do not want to hear the following: you typing, you eating, you sipping coffee, you talking to your neighbor, other people in the background, your computer fan, your FB messenger pinging, your text message alert, your cell phone ringing, you couging, you sneezing, you blowing your nose, or you snoring. I hear most of these (except snoring) monthly in my company, after my 500some person sized department has been told every two weeks for TEN FUCKING YEARS to mute your phone when on a conference call.

    This is by far and away, without exception, my biggest pet peeve in the office. And yes, some of the people in my department are best categorized as “obliviots”. Peter Principle hard at work.

    I have even heard, one time, a person urinating into a toilet because he had a headset and didn’t mute himself. At least that time, the senior manager hosting the call simply said “REALLY?!!?!” and terminated the call instantly. The entire department received a scathing email 5 minutes later. We got a 2 week reprieve from noise. 4 weeks later, that very message conveyed in that email (mute your phone on a conference call) was forgotten.

  2. If you must leave a voice mail, state your name and number at both the beginning and end of your message. If I have to go find a pen to write down your name and number at the end of the message I don’t want to listen to the entire message twice before I get your number.

    (ps. @Bill. I never just mute my phone once on a conference call. I mute on the call-in app, on my phone itself, and on my headset. I’ve seen too many cases of missed mutes causing some embarrassing scenes to trust just one mute function. So it might take me a bit to unmute, but the peace of mind is worth it.)

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