Fiction: The Conference Call

phoneConference room 329A (past Missy’s office, right, left at the carpet stain, left where Nick used to sit, then third door past where the supply room used to be)

Greg: “Got the dial-in?”

Bill: “Dialing in now.”

(dialtone)

Greg: “I should have gotten coffee.”

(upbeat MIDI music stolen from a public television station somewhere)

Voice: “Welcome to AT&T’s teleconferencing center. There are three participants on your call, including you. You are joining as a participant.”

(entrance beep)

Kevin: “Hi, who just joined? Hello? Is someone on the line?”

Greg: “Hi, sorry, yeah, we had it on mute. It’s Bill and Greg from TPQW.”

Kevin: “Hi Bill and Greg. We also have Tony from BVPRT.”

(exit beep)

Kevin: “Hello?”

(entrance beep)

Kevin: “Did someone just join?”

Tony: “Hi, it’s Tony. I got cut off.”

Kevin: “Is Vanessa going to dial in?”

Tony: “She’s on another call. She said she might dial in later.”

Kevin: “Anyone else on the line?”

(silence)

Kevin: “Why don’t we get started? I thought it might be good to have this call ahead of the call to talk about the meeting to get ready for the meeting ahead of the RCCAG call coming up, you know, just to make sure we know what’s coming down the pike before we take a deeper dive and drill down into the issues.”

Greg: “I agree that we probably want to have a conversation to level set.”

(Bill hits mute)

Greg: “Hey, did you mute it?”

Bill: “Yeah, it’s on mute.”

Greg: “So what’s this about again?”

Bill: “We’re going over the slide deck for the pre-call pre-meeting pre-meeting pre-call.”

Greg: “Are you sure? My calendar says this is the pre-meeting pre-meeting pre-call pre-call.”

Bill: “Oh. Did I miss an update?”

Greg: “Do I have the latest draft here? When was this sent out?”

(over the phone)

Kevin: “So what do you think, Greg? Would you guys be supportive of a potential impact analysis of the enhancements initiative?”

Bill: “I’m unmuting it, okay?”

(into the speakerphone)

Greg: “Oh, um, yeah, we’re totally on the same page. We really appreciate all your hard work. Really valuable input to the process.”

Kevin: “Great, glad you’re on board.”

(Bill hits mute)

Bill: “God, these guys are idiots. I’m so glad I’m not at that agency. Wait, it’s on mute, right?”

Greg: “Yeah, but I’m taking it off, okay? Watch this.”

(Greg hits unmute)

Greg: “Hey, Tony, didn’t I see you at the all night pancake house on Friday in a cowboy hat and a kimono?”

(silence)

Greg: “Tony? Does that work for you?”

Tony: “Sorry, I was on mute. Could you please repeat the question?”

Greg: “Yeah, it can be hard to hear on these calls.”

Kevin: “I’m sorry, what was that? Are you getting static on your end?”

Greg: “Okay, so are these numbers just for April or are they for the whole quarter?”

Tony: “Is he kidding me? Does he not see where it says ‘year to date’ in size 20 font? Wait, it’s on mute, right?”

Greg: “Sorry, Tony, what was that? There was some static on the line.”

(sound of toilet flushing)

Tony: “Oops, I was trying to talk on mute.”

(alternating words and silence, as if muting and unmuting the phone)

Greg: “…clown car…private sector… asparagus…rugby world cup…no, I said, yes, do mute it—”

Kevin: “Now if you could turn to slide four.”

Bill: “Wait, mine aren’t numbered! Which one’s slide four?”

Greg: “…the secretary…parchesi… cafteri—“

(entrance beep)

Kevin: “Hello? Who just joined?”

(silence)

Kevin: “Did someone just join?”

(silence)

Kevin: “Hello, who’s on the line?”

Vanessa: “Hi, it’s Vanessa. Sorry I’m late.”

Kevin: “Hi, Vanessa. So does anyone else have any more questions?”

(silence)

Kevin: “I’ll take that as an all clear sign. Looks like everybody gets back about two minutes of their day.”

Greg: “Thanks everyone, this was really helpful.”

Tony: “Definitely, thanks.”

Kevin: “Enjoy the rest of your day.”

Greg: “Thank you.”

Tony: “Thanks.”

Vanessa: “Thanks, bye.”

(series of exit beeps)

Greg: “I think that went well, no?”

(silence)

Greg: “Hey, I said, I think that—“

Bill: “Oh, sorry, I was on mute.”

Greg: “We’re not even on the phone.”

Bill: “Are you getting static on your end too?”

Greg: “Nevermind.”

Bill: “Okay, good job.”

Greg: “Good job.”

(dial tone, only not sounding like the real deal so much as like a person making the noise with his mouth)

(silence)

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