The speakerphone feature on phones is super convenient. You can drive or fold laundry while carrying on a conversation. Sometimes, though, things go awry. The person on the other end of the line may not realize they’re on speaker, and may say something awkward. Or embarrassing. Or worse.
These 10 people share their cringe-worthy speakerphone horror stories:
10. “I wish I could have died right there”
I used to work security at a casino. I showed up to a shift one night to be told that my cruisey gig of riding around the car parks making sure there aren’t any babies /pets locked in cars was cancelled and I’d be hauling ass on the main gaming floor all night.
I was annoyed, and after the briefing I went to the staff caf to get a coffee and change. Down there, I plop down onto a couch and start bitching to one of my co-workers about my boss, the job, specific colleagues… I was extremely insubordinate and critical of my own team, but it was ok. This was a private conversation.
Or so I thought until the floor supervisor finds me and tells me im sitting on my radio’s PTT button. Every security officer, not to mention every surveillance operator (all up, some 140 individuals) on shift had just been treated to ten minutes of me blocking comms with my bitching. I wish I could have died right there. I still had 11.5 hours left on my shift.
9. Always double-check mute
Me and a co-worker were on a conference call. Basically the entire multinational IT team discussing some project coming up with some corporate bigwigs.
So we’re told what we need to do, and one of the guys from Holland (I’ll call him Bjorn) goes off on one complaining about the workload. He goes on for a solid 20 minutes complaining and just talking in circles…but the thing was, this project wasn’t optional, we had to do it no matter what, everyone was in the same boat and he actually had one of the lightest workloads having the fewest users to support.
After his tirade is over, the focus switches to the UK team and we’re told what we need to do. We basically just say “Okay, understood.”
I mute the phone, turn to my co-worker and say:
“You see how much fucking easier it is to just agree to something instead of wasting everyone’s time bitching? It’s not like we’ve got a fucking choice. Just get the fuck on with it. Is it just me or is every conference call like 10 minutes of useful info, followed by 45 minutes of Bjorn bitching?”
Then my co-worker chimes in “Yeah, all he does is fucking whine…’I’m Bjorn, I’ve got to do some fucking work for once. It’s less than everyone else, but I’m going to whine about it for fucking hours’. Every time. “
“Guy’s a twat. I’ve seen how many tickets he does a week. What he calls a busy week, I call an average Monday morning… but it’s the way he’ll keep whining about something that we can’t change. Doesn’t matter that it affects everyone, doesn’t matter that we’ve no choice but to suck it up and get on with it, he just talks in circles.”
“Yeah, and why moan about it? It’s not like the company’s going to say ‘Okay, we’ll cancel a multi-million pound project because fucking Bjorn wants to spin in his chair all day.”
Then…we notice the call has gone completely silent. I look at the phone and see the mute button isn’t lit up. I shit my pants and, for some reason, mute the phone like it will erase the last minute of conversation. There’s dead air for what felt like an eternity, then we hear:
“Ummm…UK, did you say something?”
Me and my co-worker just stare at each other in horror. The company CEO is on the call, so it the main head of IT.
At that moment, the UK IT Head, whose office is just down the hall, boots the door open, barges into the room making cuthroat motions and mouthing “YOU’RE NOT ON MUTE! YOU’RE NOT ON MUTE”
We just stare back in horror and say “We know!”
Then the call goes “Errr….okay, let’s carry on.”
At that point we see that the UK IT Head is actually trying not to laugh and we figure we can’t be in that deep shit… then the call goes on like nothing happened. Bjorn, uncharacteristically, stayed silent.
We didn’t get in the shit for it. No-one complained and our Boss wasn’t pissed at us because we were basically saying “This is our job, we have to do it so there’s no point bitching” and Bjorn never complained (probably because he knew we were right).
Now, we laugh about it…but when we realized the phone wasn’t muted and the call went silent, we nearly soiled ourselves.
8. Nice try
Got called by a coworker from a different location, whom I never dealt with before. This is paraphrased from 10 years ago
C: Hi this Jerry just calling you for the startup meeting for project X
M: who are you?
C: Jerry from the San Diego office, you’re the lead engineer on Project X that’s been going on since last year
…some other talk about the software being used, told him I’ve never used that software before for development
M: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I don’t know why I’m assigned to this project as I’ve never heard of it before and I’ve never done work the San Diego office. If you’re trying to schedule installation and startup and expecting me to do it you’ve got a problem. I’ve been working on Y for the last year.
C: well we’re meeting with the customer (I sensed uneasyness) what am I supposed to tell them?
(It was now I realized I was on speaker)
M: well you’ll have to figure that out on your own as I’ve never been involved in the project and if it’s been going on for a year like you said you’ve got other issues. I would also hope that you wouldn’t have me on speaker and I sincerely hope the customer isn’t there now. (I realized the customer was in the room)
C: okay looks like we’ll have to get back to you <click>
Turns out they wanted me as a scape goat because they had already spent the customers money on a different project to cover cost overruns (rob Peter to pay Paul). We closed that office a month later.
7. She’ll learn those words one way or another
I had to call my boss for help with a machine that would not cooperate. We are talking as I am tightening a bolt and my slips. I split my knuckle open and called the machine every 4-letter word. I finally stop and he says ‘uhhh…I should have told you that you are on speaker with my family in the car’. I could hear his wife laughing but could only imagine his daughter’s reaction.
6. Poor coach
Back in high school I was with my friend and our girls basketball team coach. Definitely was not the best team and the coach was a wonderful person but not a great coach. We had practice that day and she was telling us how she couldn’t make it but someone else from the boys senior team would step in for the day if enough of us wanted to still have it.
My coach asked me to call around and see if people still wanted to come. I call my friend (MVP) and put her on speaker (not sure why, I guess so the coach could hear her answer ASAP?) and told her the situation. She said “yea, we might as well (still have the practice), coach ____ isn’t really that good and doesn’t help us at all, we basically coach ourselves anyway.”
I think I was able to turn off the speaker before the last few words but the damage was already done. Coach looked a bit upset initially but then said “wait, what did she say? I couldn’t hear her.” But the phone was right in between us.
I just said that she said she would enjoy having it and then ran outside the classroom to tell her that she was on speaker phone. This was 6 years ago and I haven’t really used speaker phone since.
TL;DR: called my friend in front of coach and friend said coach wasn’t good anyway.
5. We’ve all been there
I was on a conference Zoom (video) call with customers and my kids were upstairs being rather loud. I hit “mute”, ripped my headphones off and yelled “KIDS SHUT UP DADDY IS ON A CALL YOU’RE MAKING TOO MUCH NOISE BE QUIET RIGHT NOW OR SO HELP ME”.
Satisfied, I turned back to my laptop to see, in horror, a black screen where my visage should have been and 4-5 customers, red-faced with laughter (some with tears in their eyes).
I’d hit the “turn off camera” button instead.
4. To be fair, it was a bit sketchy
Background: I work as an accountant, and the day before, had been talking with co-worker about a newish (2nd year) client of ours, who shall be Mr. Smith. He had just received his tax return, and wanted us to redo it with some expenses he’d missed. Nothing too unusual, but he’d done the same thing the year before, and Coworker and I felt a little odd about it.
So the next day, I get a phone call.
Coworker: Hey Popo, I was just talking to Mr. Smith… <I interrupted here>
Me: Oh man, what does that crook want THIS time?
Coworker: Uh, well, he’s on speaker with me here, and it turns out that the expenses were just in different categories than he’s used to, and we don’t have to change anything after all.
Needless to say, Mr. Smith was NOT a 3rd year client with us after that…
3. Best conference call ever
So it wasn’t me- but back when I worked at Radioshack, there used to be a morning conference call from the District Manager (Who, I should note, was a colossally pompous, arrogant, petty, vindictive and generally incompetent ass.) The general procedure was the store manager or manager-in-training (Asst. Manager) to take the call.
It was a well known thing that most people would just fucking mute the DM because it wasn’t really a MEETING, and more a chance for him to yammer inane pomposity at a captive audience. But he would ask the occasional question, so people did have to pay attention.
So one morning I’m in there at stupid-o-clock and miserably groggy when our MIT calls me to the back room, excited as fuck. I’m wondering what the hell is going on and then he points to the phone. Low-level, barely audible, I hear what sounds like someone mumbling under our DM’s blather. It’s profanity, it’s there, and it’s quiet.
Apparently it wasn’t uncommon for multiple store managers/MITs to swear at/mock the DM while on mute because it was just that fat of a target. This guy hadn’t noticed he wasn’t muted and because the DM wasn’t listening, he seemed to think he was fine.
And then the guy mumbling shouted a quick load of profanity ending with “And your fucking nose is half your head, you look like a retarded muppet!”
The conference call goes FUCKING DEAD. the DM sorta stumbled to a stop like a failing engine, and then a few seconds later screams, “WHO THE FUCK WAS THAT? YOU’RE FUCKING FIRED!” into his phone.
Yeahhhh… our MIT and I were nearly on the floor laughing out asses off. It was just… this was too surreal to pass up.
2. “She has cans!”
Friend of mine, who is a girl, and I are driving in my car to another friend’s house. I call one of my best friends to see what he’s up to and let him know that me and, let’s call her Tabetha, are going out for the night.
He responds with, “oh no way dude, that’s awesome! She has cans!”
My heart stopped and she just looks at me. I go, “bro, she’s in the car with me and you’re on speakerphone…” Tabetha says, “heyyyy…”
He then says, “yeah, I’m not going out anymore…”
1. Sounds like rain
Not me but a VP I worked for.
Bluetooth headsets had just come out for the Blackberry phone. VP got one to be cool. (IT VP)
I asked for one but they were limited to upper management.
VP gets on a call with other VPs, CIO and CTO. He’s in Vancouver, they are in San Francisco in a conference room with mics and speakers in the ceiling.
VP needs to pee really badly, do he mutes the headset and goes to the john.
People in San Francisco suddenly stop talking as their eyes turn up towards the ceiling. Someone asks “why does it sound like it’s raining all of a sudden?”.
VP storms past my desk and throws the headset at me. “It’s yours now!”.
Early Jabra headsets had a bug that would randomly unmute without warning.
And that’s how I got my first company paid Bluetooth headset.