Wednesday, 13 August 2008

How many civil servants does it take to...?

Pandemonium ensued at work yesterday, when a terrifying thing happened:

It was lunch time, so luckily the office was only approximately half-staffed, otherwise I dread to think of the chaos that could have occurred. An animated, yet quiet conversation was taking place between a couple of the Work Hags, two managers were discussing something boring at their adjacent desks and the rest of us were getting on with our work.
Suddenly, a shrill, piercing, alarm sounded twice in quick succession. Then a pause and it sounded again. Another pause and the alarm went off again.
The Work Hags immediately ceased their chatter, their heads snapping around in the direction of the strident alarm. The managers also stopped talking, one of them standing up to see over the baffle board in front of their desk. All over the office, heads rose from desks, popping up like meerkats after sensing danger, all the while, the alarm kept sounding.
It wasn't the fire alarm, and it certainly wasn't the bomb alarm. Instead, it was something that's very rarely heard, something from a bygone age. Something that we had almost forgotten.

"Shit" said one of the Work Hags. "That phone is ringing!" And she pointed to the desk next to hers in almost abject horror.

Confusion reigned as questions and hypotheses were fired back and forth as to what could be causing this infernal noise to emanate from the telephonic machine. The managers didn't have an answer. They just looked at each other helplessly.
The other Work Hag, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, suddenly cried: "Who is it?"
Someone gingerly approached the telephone and looked at the caller display screen.
"I don't recognise the number" they said.
"Why is it ringing? Why?!"
Then it stopped. The silence was blissful, but it didn't last, The phone continued to ring again. And again. And again!

I looked over my computer monitor, rolling my eyes. "Why don't you just bloody answer it?!"

- - -

Ever since we had a new phone system installed that's linked to the computers, everyone's had to wear headsets, which when we're logged into the system, beep to signal an incoming call. We've only had this set-up for a couple of months, but we're now so used to not hearing phones ring, that when one does start its incessant caterwauling, because someone unplugs their headset and forgets to log out when they leave their desk, we're practically helpless as to figure out what to do.



  1. You've got a phone with a headset? You have your own cubicle?

    Are you a sex line worker?

    In related news, somehow my work phone has been disconnected from the group so it doesn't ring when someone calls the general office number! Good times - I just get to glare at other people when they don't pick up!!

  2. Ooh! A headset like Madonna!

    Ew - I had a job like that. We had a call queue moniter above our heads. 'There are this many people waiting in the queue, and they have been waiting for X number of minutes'

    I really think the managers had no idea how this actually decreased productivity.

    The meerkats picture had me laughing! Have you ever played a game of cubicle meerkat? The whole floor needs to be in on it. Only one meerkat up at a time. If you see another meerkat, you have to duck down.

  3. The machines are taking over! You're being assimilated! The headphones are siphoning away your individuality...soon you'll be a mindless drone!

  4. Can I get fries with that?

    Oops, that's "chips" where you are.

  5. It sounds likesomething out of doctor who. You will be cybermen soon. Watch out for the Daleks upstairs.

    Don't you just love the wireless headset, you are never alone. Not even in the loo

  6. Come to think of it, are you sure you don't work down on Canary Warf in London?

    Yvonne Hartman

  7. T-Bird, you worked at a sex line?!

  8. I am sure IVD is never alone in the loo anyway Cyberp

  9. Tim: No. No cubicles in my office, thank goodness. but I do have a headset. And I wish my job was as easy and well paid as a sex line worker!

    Heh! I love glaring at people. Whether their phones are ringing or not.

    T-Bird: The Real Time Officer (human equivalent of a queue monitor) sits opposite me. I poke him in the eyes with my cone bra when he starts yelling out queue lengths & times.

    I'd love to play cubicle meerkats, but most people I work with would be too stupid to understand it.
    And we don't have cubicles.

    Eros: I have adapted to service the mighty BorgPhone!

    MJ: You'd have a hard time driving up to my window - I work two stories up!

    CyberPetra: Luckily, the government dept I work for is too cheapskate to provide us with wireless headsets, so I can still go to the loo in peace.

    I had to Google Yvonne Hartman - Still no clue who she is as I never watched Torchwood because of that irritating American twit Barrowman.

    Tim: She could get through 10 punters an hour, so I hear.

    I'd better up my game as she'll be beating my record soon!

    Beast & CyberPetra: Of course I'm not. After all, the two SubC's come along, too.

  10. You don't have wireless headsets? Heh. I do and I feel so important wearing it.

    That's so funny because Yvonne Hartman was not (as far as I know) in Torchwood, but in two episodes of Doctor Who. Hmmmm.

    Barrowman is cute though. I'd um. Yes. I don't think I need to finish that sentence.

    Go search for her on (the best source of movie and tv-series info online)

  11. Yep. It was a sad day when I hung up my tracksuit pants and Tim Tams and ugg boots.

    Being a phone sex worker was tough, man.

    Our cubicles were nice and large, but they had to be because we needed the space for all our manuals and shit.

  12. I sympathise, T-Bird. It was kinda like that for me when I gave up modeling.

  13. Track suit pants and Tim Tams? Wait, you were an Argo model, weren't you?!


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